General Atomics Aeronautical Systems, Inc. (GA-ASI), one of the world’s leading manufacturer of Remotely Piloted Aircraft Systems (RPAS), has been advised that, following consideration by the Australian Government, it has been selected to provide the Armed Remotely Piloted Aircraft System under Project Air 7003 for the Australian Defence Force (ADF).
“We look forward to providing our world-leading RPAS to meet the Air 7003 requirements,” said Linden Blue, CEO of GA-ASI. “We’ll work closely with Team REAPER Australia partners to provide a highly capable and affordable RPAS to the ADF, while creating meaningful and enduring Australian jobs.”
The ADF joins other top-tier military forces in choosing a MQ-9 variant because of its proven multi-role combat performance. The MQ-9 is part of GA-ASI’s PREDATOR series of RPAS, which is one the world’s most trusted and capable Armed Medium-Altitude, Long-Endurance (MALE) RPAS, and hails from a family of RPAS which recently surpassed five million flight hours.
GA-ASI announced its intention to offer a MALE RPAS to the ADF during AVALON 2017 – the Australian International Aerospace and Defence Exposition – with the launch of Team REAPER Australia, a robust grouping of Australian industry partners. The team currently consists of ten Australian companies providing a range of innovative sensor, communication, manufacturing and life-cycle support capabilities that includes Cobham, CAE, Raytheon, Flight Data Systems, TAE Aerospace, Quickstep, AirSpeed, Rockwell Collins Australia, Ultra and SentientVision.
Australia has yet to make a choice between the MQ-9 REAPER Block 5 variant, which is currently in production for the US Air Force, or the MQ-9B SkyGuardian under development for the United Kingdom.
Australian Defence Minister Christopher Pyne said that 12-16 air vehicles will be acquired under the ADF’s Project Air 7003 Phase 1, which, in the 2016 Australian Defence White Paper, was priced at AU$1-2 billion. The aircraft will be operated by the Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF).