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.