Australia selects naval surveillance drone for $900 Million
The Australian Department of Defence (DoD) has selected Schiebel’s S-100 Camcopter drone for the Royal Australian Navy (RAN) for 1.3 billion Australian dollars ($930 million).
The DoD has not revealed the number of drones under consideration; however, an unconfirmed media report says up to 40 drones would be acquired.
The defense department selected the drone from a shortlist of five contenders for “Block One” of the Sea129 Phase 5 maritime unmanned aircraft systems (MUAS) program. The S-100 was selected for single source consideration without an open tender to speed up the acquisition process.
The move has advanced the initial operating capability (IOC) of the drone by 18 months, Australian Defence wrote, citing a DoD spokesperson. According to the outlet, the drone could achieve initial operating capability in six months.
30-year Marine Drone Program
The 30 year MUAS program seeks “unmanned intelligence, surveillance, reconnaissance and targeting capabilities, with five-year rolling block upgrades that will incorporate new technology,” the outlet reported.
Block one will run from 2023-2028 and provide MUAS capability for RAN’s eight Anzac-class frigates and 12 Arafura-class Offshore Patrol Vessels (OPV).
Block two will span 2029-2033 as the drones are deployed on RAN’s nine Hunter-class future frigates and other ships, including OPVs to “refresh” their MUAS capability.