Home-grown technology central to Defence unmanned aerial system project

Department of Defence

The Australian Defence Force will soon be equipped with world-leading Australian developed camera sensor technology featuring next generation intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR) capabilities. They are specifically designed for use on tactical unmanned aerial systems (UAS).

Recent progress in the ongoing tender evaluation process for the Tactical UAS Replacement and Enhancement Project (LAND 129 Phase 3) has confirmed the CM234 Spitfire camera gimbal will be incorporated into the Australian Army’s new tactical unmanned aerial system.

Director General Army Aviation Systems, Brigadier James Allen, described the Spitfire camera gimbal as a generational leap in optical camera sensor and image stabilisation technology that offers a significant capability advantage for Defence.

“The Spitfire camera gimbal is an extremely lightweight sensor package that provides a day-and-night surveillance and reconnaissance capability on the installed aircraft, which will significantly boost Army’s tactical UAS capabilities,” Brigadier Allen said.

“UAS are a key component of Army’s ISR capability, with some smaller unmanned systems used last year on Operation Bushfire Assist.

“Insitu Pacific Limited and Textron Systems Australia have been selected as the final two companies in the tender evaluation process for LAND 129 Phase 3, and both have confirmed the inclusion of the Spitfire camera gimbal in their solution.”

Both companies will continue to refine their offerings over the coming months, prior to a Government decision on the new unmanned platform later this year.

Assistant Secretary Defence Capability and Innovation, Andrew Hodgkinson, said the advanced Spitfire camera sensor technology was a great demonstration of a home-grown innovation from Australia’s technology sector transitioning into defence capability.

“The advanced CM234 Spitfire camera gimbal has been developed by Melbourne-based Australian company Ascent Vision Technologies, with support and investment from the Defence Innovation Hub,” Mr Hodgkinson said.

“This Australian invention will allow capabilities traditionally reserved for manned aviation systems to be introduced on tactical unmanned aerial systems.”

The imaging system uses electro-optical, short wave and medium wave infrared cameras, along with laser range finding and target designation technology.

Industry and research organisations can submit innovation proposals through the Defence Innovation Portal at www.innovationhub.defence.gov.au.

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