The Australian government has 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.

The US, UK and other allied nations also operate this aircraft.

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.

15 COMMENTS

    • Could be wrong, but I’m sure its the Yank version. Without googling it, I’m sure ours have fancier sounding names and that we’re replacing them and doubling the size of the fleet with something else

  1. We shohkd buy at least another 10 of these, maybe even 20. Have 3 squadrons of 10 each to at least somewhat replace the lost Tornado numbers. Not the same as having the Tornadoes but better than nothing and cheap to buy & run.

  2. Shame they didn’t go with the Protector, would have added further interoperability with the UK, and makes more sense with longer operational range and time. General Atomics even touted an ability to operate with / augment the Poseidon.

  3. Would be great if Australia had the UK “Protector” variant. Especially if we end up fitting it for supplementary MPA duties (over the P8s).

    That could conceivably mean Australia doesn’t have to spend so much on Triton.

    • Triton is a quantum leap ahead of Reaper as a high end surveillance platform but is unarmed.

      Reaper is needed to provide a persistent armed UAV presence for COIN operations and persistent CAS. It’s surveillance capabilities are secondary but can provide some overlap with Triton.

      General Atomics offered a version of the Reaper for the AIR 7000 Phase 1B maritime UAS capability but it lost out to Triton. Reaper is being procured under AIR 7003.

      This announcement is fulfilling a separate requirement in ADF planned projects alongside Triton. It does not impact on the Triton requirement nor will it result in a scaled back Triton buy.

      • You may be right but is it truly close to being ready? The US seem to have delayed their own version for doubts it is ready for such missions so do we really know that Taranis was/is ready for the big time or is it still a work in development? I thought they were talking late twenties or even thirties for this sort of technology.

        • Is it ready???

          The Triton is based on the USAF’s RQ4 Global Hawk which has been around since 1998 so the donor airframe is a well known quantity.

          The Triton builds on this proven platform with stronger wings, deicing and lighting strike protection to allow it to descend from high altitude through the cloudbase to investigate maritime contacts more closely, whereas the Global Hawk tends to remain only at high altitudes.

          The USN declared IOC in 2018 and the RAAF won’t take delivery until mid 2023 which is the year the USN has scheduled for FOC.

      • OZ,

        I agree. I’ve been banging on about the UK getting into BAMS for a while, especially after ordering such a pitiful number of P-8. However, its all complemntary with ASW so “the more, the merrier”.

  4. Another missed opportunity by HMG

    We should have Taranis up and running and being delivered to the RAF.

    Once again we have let a leading position go.

    The market for Taranis/Magma is potentially huge, yet it has slipped to oblivion.

      • It would seem so Daniele

        2 years ago we had a product on the cusp of readiness, we tie up with the French and Zip… its all gone.

        This thing flew and worked, it was not far away from being useful

        I am also concerned about the UK’s leading position in ramjet technology, that also seems to have dropped off the radar as well

        South Korea has national endeavours (strategic projects) that the whole country gets behind. What are our national endeavours.

        • We don’t have a ramjet capability now do we after RR dropped the technology. Or at least this is whaI read in regards to the meteor missile development. The only options were German of American Maybe things have changed since?

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