Patrick Durrant | Sydney
Manufacturer of Remotely Piloted Aircraft (RPA) systems General Atomics Aeronautical Systems (GA-ASI) announced an expansion today of its team in the bid for Project Air 7003 (Medium-Altitude, Long-Endurance (MALE) capability).
The so-called Team Reaper Australia, originally consisting of Cobham, CAE Australia, Raytheon, and Flight Data Systems, was first announced at the Avalon Airshow this year. Membership has now increased to nine with the addition of TAE Aerospace, Rockwell Collins, Ultra Electronics Australia, Airspeed and Quickstep Holdings.
“General Atomics recognises the importance of having a robust team of Australian industry partners to support the Air 7003 requirements,” CEO GA-ASI Linden Blue said. “We are strongly committed to partnerships with Australian industry and to providing a capable, affordable RPA system to the Australian Defence Force.”
TAE Aerospace chief strategy officer Darren Hutchinson said he believed the project will provide substantial benefit to Australia’s local industry and showcase TAE's innovative through-life support capabilities to the world.”
Managing director Rockwell Collins Nick Gibbs, who is no doubt considering the fallout of the recent merger announcement with UTC, said, “joining Team Reaper Australia will solidify the work we’ve been doing with General Atomics to set the standards for UAS to access civil airspace”.
Ultra Electronics will be supplying the UAS “with special-purpose sensors that are designed and manufactured in Australia”, according to marketing director Peter Weir.
Managing director Airspeed Steve Barlow said his company would be offering its reconfigurable and proven airborne equipment pod to house payloads on the platform.
Speaking for Australia’s largest independent, aerospace-grade, advanced composites manufacturer Quickstep, CEO Mark Burgess said the project fitted well with the company's strategic direction, manufacturing capabilities and capacity availability, and added to Australia’s further development of sovereign capability.
For more on Air 7003, read ADM editor Katherine Ziesing's piece on rival bidder IAI with its Heron TP.