Insitu Pacific and Textron Australia have reportedly been shortlisted for the Australian Army’s LAND 129 Phase 3 tactical UAS requirement.
Although yet to be announced by Defence, ADBR understands the offerings by Leidos Australia with the Aeronautics Orbiter 4 air vehicle and by a teaming of Raytheon Australia and Schiebel Pacific with the S-100 CAMCOPTER have been dropped from the competition.
Insitu Pacific’s solution is for a mixed fleet of Integrator (RQ-21A Blackjack in USN/USMC service) and the smaller ScanEagle air vehicles which use common launch and recovery systems, and many of the same sensors. Textron Australia is offering its Aerosonde V4 which can be quickly converted for vertical takeoff and land operations as the Aerosonde HQ.
The four contenders were selected in March 2020 to proceed to testing and assessment following an initial industry survey conducted in 2018 and early 2019, and a follow-on invitation to respond (ITR). A Gate 2 announcement hadn’t been expected until the first quarter of 2021, although Army had reserved the right to reduce the contenders before then, which it appears to have done.
While not guaranteed, the winning LAND 129 Phase 3 solution will likely inform the RAN’s SEA 129 Phase 5 program which is currently running about 12 months behind Army’s TUAS program. A Defence spokesman told ADBR in June that, “Army is working closely with Navy to develop complementary capability solutions between the two projects.”
The RAN already operates a limited number of S-100 CAMCOPTER’s and ScanEagles under its non-capitalised Navy Minor Program (NMP)1942 effort to define and refine its SEA 129 Phase 5 requirements.