• Schiebel's Camcopter in flight. Credit: Schiebel
    Schiebel's Camcopter in flight. Credit: Schiebel

Defence’s Maritime Unmanned Aircraft System Continuous Development Program (Sea 129 Phase 5) has reached a new milestone following the selection of five respondents to progress to the next phase of the procurement process.

The Acting Minister for Defence Senator Marise Payne announced that BAE Systems Australia, Insitu Pacific, Northrop Grumman Australia, Raytheon Australia, and Textron Systems Australia had been shortlisted for Block One.

“This Program will acquire maritime unmanned intelligence, surveillance, reconnaissance and targeting aircraft systems which will complement current sensors and systems on Navy’s ships, while boosting a ship’s area of surveillance,” Minister Payne said.

Sea 129 Phase 5 is the largest maritime UAV program of its kind on the global market and includes three blocks: Block 1 includes seven ‘bricks’ to be operated from the Arafura class OPVs and ANZAC class frigates; Block 2 will expand the capability to other ship classes from 2029; and Block 3 will update all systems from 2034.

“By incorporating new technology through block upgrades every five years, the program supports the development of Australia’s Unmanned Aircraft System industry, and provides the Navy with a leading edge maritime surveillance capability,” Minister for Defence Industry Mellissa Price said.

“This process will allow Australian businesses to be directly involved in providing greater situational awareness for the fleet, in particular the new Arafura Offshore Patrol Vessels, while strengthening long-term job growth and security.”

Future opportunities will be available in forthcoming Blocks of Sea 129 Phase 5 from 2024.

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