Defence Minister Peter Dutton has announced that Insitu Pacific has been selected as the preferred supplier for the Australian Army’s Project LAND 129 Phase 3 tactical uncrewed aerial system (TUAS) requirement.
The announcement will see Insitu provide 24 Integrator air vehicles, as well as associated ground systems and prime system integrator (PSI) services. Production is scheduled to commence this year, with deliveries in 2023 and 2024.
The Integrator will replace the Textron RQ-7B Shadow 200 in Army service. It is a growth development of the familiar ScanEagle air vehicle which was operated by the Australian Army in Afghanistan and Iraq, and is in service with the Royal Australian Navy’s 822X SQN at Nowra.
“This project will enhance the Australian Army’s capabilities by harnessing the innovation and cutting-edge technologies being developed right here in Australia,” an 11 March ministerial release says. “In total, this project will commit 80 per cent of its $650 million budget to be spent in Australia using Australian companies and technology to manufacture, maintain, and operate the platform throughout its life.”
While the air vehicle is a US design, Insitu has proposed to build them in Australia – possibly at Boeing Defence Australia’s new facility at Wellcamp Airport near Toowoomba. Insitu has also pulled together a team of Australian suppliers that will give it a substantial level of locally-sourced content, including Ascent Vision Technologies Australia, Orbital UAV, Nova Systems Australia, LSM Advanced Composites, and Jayben Group.
A $56 million investment will be made at Enoggera Barracks in Brisbane where the new capability will be based, and a number of Army Bushmaster protected mobility vehicles will be adapted to support the system.
“Our Insitu Pacific team is honoured to be selected to provide this vital capability to the Australian Army,” managing director of Insitu Pacific, Andrew Duggan said in a separate company release. “The introduction of Integrator’s surveillance and reconnaissance capabilities will be a significant force multiplier for the complex challenges Army faces today and in the future.
“Our suppliers bring home-grown, Australian innovation and ingenuity to the program,” Duggan added. “The delivery of the Integrator system to Army will be underpinned by our shared commitment to further develop sovereign capability and supports the growth of businesses directly on our team, as well as their respective ecosystems of Australian suppliers.”
The Integrator system and the Textron Aerosonde V4/HQ were shortlisted for LAND 129 Phase 3 in late 2020, ahead of offerings from teamings of Leidos and Aeronautics, and of Raytheon Australia and Schiebel.