Four companies have been down-selected for the Australian Army’s LAND 129 Phase 3 project to replace its Shadow 200 Tactical Unmanned Aerial System (UAS).
The four down-selected companies are:
• Insitu Pacific Pty Ltd
• Leidos Australia
• Raytheon Australia Pty Ltd
• Textron Systems Australia Pty Ltd
With the down-selection, the program has progressed to the tendering process. The four companies were selected through an abbreviated Invitation To Register process and will be provided a detailed Request for Tender (RFT), to further explore plans and conceptual integration designs. With the own
Deputy Director Army UAS Projects Andrew McKinnon said there are a number of local companies already involved in the Australian Defence Force’s Unmanned Systems space.
“These companies are encouraged to continue their engagement with the LAND 129 Phase 3 down-selected tenderers in order to deliver a world class capability,” McKinnon said. “Unmanned Aerial Systems are a key component of Army’s Surveillance and Reconnaissance capability, with some smaller Unmanned Systems recently being used on Operation Bushfire Assist.”
The next phase of the project will focus on a competitive evaluation of more comprehensive tendered solutions from the four Primes, prior to progressing the project to Government consideration in 2021.
The current Tactical UAS (TUAS) in service with the Australian Army is the Textron Systems/AAI Corporation RQ-7B Shadow 200 Version 1 (SH200 v1).
The Shadow 200 is operated by the Army’s 20th Surveillance and Target Acquisition Regiment (20 STA Regt) and was procured under Joint Project 129 Phase 2 (JP129-2). It provides Intelligence, Surveillance, Target Acquisition and Reconnaissance (ISTAR) support for land force operations.
According to the Army, the Shadow 200 v1 is becoming obsolescent from 2019 and will be replaced by the Shadow 200 v2 in the U.S. Army inventory, the primary operator of the UAS. The Army claims that the Shadow 200 (both v1 and v2 versions) have a number of capability shortfalls that do not support the Army’s need for a deployable, amphibious, runway independent capability.
The SHADOW 200 carries a suite of high resolution cameras above patrolling troops to provide detailed information about activities on the ground.
The air vehicle has approximately eight hours of endurance, and the ground troops are able to receive footage and data from the air vehicle in real-time using ground terminals. The air vehicles are rail-launched and have a 16′ wingspan, a gross weight of 208 kilograms, and are powered by a 29-kilowatt rotary engine.