Australian firm readies C-UAS laser prototype for ADF

Melbourne-based technology company AIM Defence has secured a A$4.9 million contract from the Australian Defence Force (ADF) to build a deployable directed energy system for counter-unmanned aircraft system (C-UAS) testing called Fractl:2, the company announced on 25 March.

According to AIM Defence, Fractl:2 is expected to be delivered to the ADF by mid-2024 and will represent the first of its kind prototype for the ADF’s C-UAS development efforts.

“Countering drones and other autonomous weapons systems has emerged as one of the most critically needed capabilities for militaries worldwide,” said AIM Defence co-founder Jessica Glenn.

“For the past four years AIM Defence has been working with Australia’s defence innovation ecosystem to build a cost-effective, high-precision and deployable directed energy system,” added Glenn. “Fractl:2 is the culmination of that effort.”

AIM Defence noted that the battery powered Fractl:2 system is capable of tracking and defeating UAS travelling at speeds of 100km/h from “kilometres away”, adding that the system could engage up to 50 UAS on a single battery charge or perform continuous operation if connected to an external power supply.

The company also claimed that Fractl:2 combines artificial intelligence-enabled tracking precision with its novel enhanced eye safety directed energy technology, which lowers the risk associated with conventional military 1µm infrared lasers. It added that adoption of directed energy systems today is limited due to safety concerns.

“We have successfully demonstrated over 200 drone defeats both indoors and outdoors over the last two years, each time improving the Fractl capabilities and learning how to safely deploy directed energy,” explained AIM Defence co-founder Jae Daniel.

“By having this focus we’ve been able to engineer our 1-micron Fractl:1 system to be orders of magnitude safer than other [directed energy] systems,” added Daniel, noting that Fractl:2 further reduces the collateral hazard again by a factor of 100.

AIM Defence was also selected by the Canadian government in February to participate in its 2024 Counter Uncrewed Aerial Systems Sandbox exercise from 27 May to 21 June in Alberta, where it will demonstrate its capabilities alongside international defence primes.

by Jr Ng