Leidos Australia partners with Aeronautics for Land 129 Phase 3

RQ-7B Shadow 200 Tactical Unmanned Aerial System.

Leidos Australia is partnering with Israeli firm Aeronautics to compete for a contract to replace the Australian Army’s RQ-7B Shadow 200 Tactical Unmanned Aerial System (TUAS) through the Department of Defence’s (DoD’s) Project Land 129 Phase 3.

Project 129

Australia acquired two complete RQ-7B Shadow 200 unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) systems at a cost of $133 million under Joint Project 129 Phase 2. The package comprised 18 air vehicles, four ground control systems, support systems, and initial training. It also included delivery of the UAVs to Australian troops in Afghanistan.

The two systems were received by troops on April 2012 and were operated by 20 Surveillance and Target Acquisition (STA) Regiment. By September 2013, the type had completed 10,000 flying hours in support of International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) troops before returning to Australia the following month.

Partnership Leidos Australia and Aeronautics

Leidos Australia announced on 7 April that it will contribute its expertise in integrating intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR) technologies with Aeronautics’ UAV development capabilities. The partnership is also expected to expand to include other Australian companies that will supply components, subsystems and services.

The DoD announced in March that Leidos Australia had been selected as one of four finalists alongside Insitu Pacific, Raytheon Australia, and Textron Systems Australia. A preferred tender is expected to be identified by 2021.

It is not known which UAV systems have been offered by the four shortlisted contenders, although it is anticipated to be comparable to the RQ-7B Shadow 200, which has a maximum take-off weight (MTOW) of 375lb (170kg) and a seven hour endurance.

Aeronautics’ portfolio includes the tactical-sized Aerostar UAV, which has a MTOW of 507lb (230kg) and can stay aloft for around 12 hours. It can also carry up to 110lb (50kg) of mission equipment, including ISR and electronic warfare (EW) payloads.

by Jr Ng