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First unveiled at Avalon 2017, the Team REAPER venture to support, develop and manufacture remotely piloted aircraft systems (RPAS – otherwise unmanned aerial systems – UAS) has not grown from four to ten companies, General Atomics Aeronautical Systems (GA-ASI) revealed at Avalon 2019 in Geelong, VIC, on 26 February.

In late 2018, the Australian government named GA-ASI as the supplier for the Australian Defence Force’s (ADF) armed RPAS requirement, with the specific variant – the MQ-9A or the advanced MQ-9B – to be selected during the course of this year.

We’ve brought together a world-class group of companies that make up Team REAPER Australia, and the team continues to grow,” commented GA-ASI CEO, Linden Blue. “Following the Australian government’s selection of GA-ASI to provide the armed RPAS, Team REAPER Australia activity has increased significantly and all team members [are] committed to supporting ADF requirements.”

While the specific support requirements are still being defined by the Capability Acquisition and Sustainment Group (CASG), the Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) and GA-ASI, Team REAPER Australia is currently geared towards the following services and capabilities:

Cobham Aviation Services Australia (lead partner; more on this here) – maintenance, repair and overhaul (MRO), logistics;

CAE Australia – RPAS training devices, training services, support material and courseware;

Airspeed – sovereign payload pods and in-country composite repairs;

Flight Data Systems – aviation services and products, including environmental testing of line-replaceable units, flight data acquisition, monitoring and analysis;

Raytheon Australia – electro-optical/infrared image systems, integration of payloads and weapons;

Collins Aerospace – Fast Attack (FasTAK) Network Joint Fires on Rosetta Data Link Processor Gateway for Digital Joint Fires;

Quickstep Technologies – composite component manufacturing;

Sentient Vision Systems – autonomous detection systems, including all environmental ViDAR Wide Area Motion Imagery;

TAE Aerospace – Honeywell TPE331 engine MRO and other powerplant-related component manufacturing;

Ultra Electronics Australia – electronic warfare (EW) payloads.

With the selection of GA-ASI to supply the ADF RPAS, Australia joins other top-tier military forces in choosing an MQ-9 variant because of its proven, multi-role combat performance and networking/interoperability effects. Known as ‘the warfighters’ choice,’ the MQ-9 is part of GA-ASI’s PREDATOR series of RPAS, the world’s most trusted and capable armed medium-altitude, long-endurance (MALE) RPAS, and hails from an RPAS family that recently surpassed five million flight hours.

The final decision as to whether the ADF requirement will be met by the MQ-9A or MQ-9B will be made this year, according to GA-ASI. (Image: GA-ASI)

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