• Credit: XTEK
    Credit: XTEK
  • Credit: XTEK
    Credit: XTEK
  • Credit: XTEK
    Credit: XTEK

Army has moved forward on current and future small unmanned aerial systems (SUAS) under Land 129 Phase 4.

XTEK has received a purchase order from the ADF worth $1.4 million for more Wasp SUAS. The Wasp was chosen to meet immediate needs under the first tranche of Land 129 Phase 4.

Meanwhile, SYPAQ Systems has signed a concept exploration contract with the Defence Innovation Hub for the Wasp replacement (4B).

The XTEK order is also for associated after-market services including technical support, training and spare equipment. The order was made to undertake a novel concept demonstration by Army and is scheduled to be delivered before the end of June 2018.

The demonstration is a separate and different requirement related to XTEK's initial SUAS contract with the ADF.

Credit: XTEK
A concept demonstration of the Wasp. Credit: XTEK

The Wasp is made in the US by AeroVironment (AV), and was originally designed by AV and the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA). It has a wingspan of 72 cm and a weight of 430 grams, and is used by the US Marine Corps.

"This win represents another positive addition to our growing contract pipeline," Philippe Odouard, managing director of XTEK, said. "We are well positioned to continue building our contract pipeline over the next 12 months, driven by further purchase orders in Australia, underpinned by increasing defence spending by the Australian government and in key international markets."

Meanwhile, SYPAQ Systems has signed its third contract with the Defence Innovation Hub. The company has proposed the Corvo X to replace the Wasp. Corvo X is an Australian-designed SUAS that aims to provide a sovereign solution to Land 129 Phase 4B.

"SYPAQ has now been awarded three contracts through the Defence Innovation Hub, that's something I'm very proud of," Chairman of the SYPAQ Group, George Vicino, said.

"Corvo X is the result of many years of hard work and investment in cutting edge innovation, and demonstrates how Australian industry can meet the needs of our Defence Force."

CEO of SYPAQ Systems, Amanda Holt, also highlighted the advantages of the Australian system. "We have some of the best unmanned systems engineers in the world working on the Corvo product line. Australian industry is more than capable of meeting the ADF's small unmanned systems needs, which is why it's so pleasing to see the Defence Innovation Hub putting their faith in Australian businesses like SYPAQ."

The need to improve on the speed and endurance of existing SUAS systems is a major challenge facing SYPAQ. Last year, Army UAS program manager Lieutenant Colonel Keirin Joyce told ADM that among the SUAS class there was no system able to operate at a speed necessary to support vehicles on the move.

“Those that claim they can have a power endurance that would require recovery of the system every twenty minutes in order to change battery.”

Under the original notice, SYPAQ should be in a position to provide a capability demonstration by December this year.

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