Minister for Defence, the Hon Christopher Pyne MP, and Minister for Defence Industry, the Hon Steven Ciobo MP, today announced the selection of the General Atomics MQ-9 Reaper variant as the system which best meets the capability requirements for Australia’s first armed remotely piloted aircraft system.
Minister Pyne said the medium altitude long endurance aircraft can be integrated within the Australian Defence Force (ADF) and would be fully interoperable with our allies.
“These new aircraft will provide enhanced firepower and intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance support to a range of missions,” Minister Pyne said.
“Medium altitude, long endurance, remotely piloted aircraft have a far greater range than smaller remotely piloted aircraft and can continuously observe an area of interest for much longer than manned reconnaissance aircraft.”
The aircraft will be used to watch and protect ADF and coalition land forces, and provide reconnaissance support for search and rescue, humanitarian assistance and disaster relief operations.
“Remotely piloted aircraft allow military commanders to make more informed decisions faster whilst providing the option to conduct strike and reconnaissance operations without risking the safety of aircrew.”
“The aircraft will be operated under the same laws of armed conflict, international human rights law and rules of engagement as manned aircraft”, Minister Pyne said.
Minister Ciobo said the project provides opportunities for Australian industry with associated infrastructure development and sustainment activities.
“General Atomics, as the original equipment manufacturer of the Reaper, has partnered with a large number of Australian companies who provide a range of innovative sensor, communication, manufacturing and life-cycle support capabilities,” Minister Ciobo said.
“This is a great opportunity for Australian industry and demonstrates Australia’s world-class capability to support cutting-edge technologies.”
The Government will now request pricing and availability data from the United States on Reaper variants to support future decision-making on the acquisition.