BAE Systems Australia has unveiled a tactical uncrewed aerial system and a new precision munition at the Avalon Air Show in Melbourne.
Named STRIX the UAS is a tilt-body aircraft that is able to perform vertical take-off and landing as well as conventional fixed wing propeller flight, much like the V-22 tiltrotor aircraft.
Kisa Christensen, director of Red Oche Autonomy and Sensors division at BAE Systems told journalists at the launch event that the company was partnered with Western Australian company Innovaero, which was building a prototype STRIX.
She said it would be ready for a first flight as soon as Q4 2023 at a flight rest range in WA.
STRIX can be collapsed into a wingspan of just 2.5m and a length of 4.5m in order to fit into a 20ft ISO container making it adaptable and transportable. The UAS is designed to operate in the land and maritime domains and using a man-in-the-loop from a ground control station can be operated from a ship.
Christensen said that the STRIX concept was developed with emerging and future Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) and Royal Australian Navy (RAN) drone requirements in mind.
STRIX has a 200kg payload at a range of 500km or a range of 800km carrying two of the company’s new Razer precision munition kits. Razer has a wing/body kit and tail unit equipped with a powered GPS/INS guidance control and navigation system and this converts a standard 40-50kg non-guided munition into a precision round that can glide onto a target out to 25km.
Natalie Waldie, programme manager for autonomy at BAE Systems said that testing would include an electric propulsion system for the VTOL take-off and landing and that STRIX will be ready for operations by 2026.
She explained that STRIX is built with carbon composite material to give the platform a light weight but strength to conduct high intensity operations. The name STRIX is derived from a type of owl that is known to be both tough with vision and menace.
by Dr. Lee Willett