Air Platforms

Australian Army to roll out Black Hornet micro UAVs

24 May 2018
Australian Army soldiers with a PD-100 Black Hornet UAV during an exercise at the Shoalwater Bay Training Area in Queensland on 4 May 2018. Source: Commonwealth of Australia

The Australian Army (AA) will soon roll out the PD-100 Black Hornet Personal Reconnaissance System (PRS) across one of its brigades in Brisbane, the Department of Defence (DoD) in Canberra announced in a 24 May statement.

The rollout and sustainment of the micro unmanned aircraft systems (UASs) is an AUD18 million (USD13.6 million) project and a “key capability milestone for the army as it continues to be a technologically advanced force”, said the DoD.

Brigadier Susan Coyle, commander of the AA’s 6th Combat Support Brigade and of the service’s only UAS unit – the 20th Surveillance Target Acquisition Regiment – was quoted in the statement as saying that the rollout is a “significant achievement for the army”.

“UASs are a game-changer for the army, providing enhanced situational awareness for better mission execution for Australian soldiers,” said the brigadier, adding that the rollout of these micro UASs to AA soldiers is an "exciting example of adopting tactical robotic technology”.

The AA operates several UASs ranging from the rotary-wing Black Hornet PRS to large, nine-hour endurance surveillance systems such as the RQ-7B Shadow 200.

The latest move comes after manufacturer FLIR Systems announced in October 2017 that it had been awarded a USD6.8 million contract to supply an undisclosed number of its PD-100 Black Hornet 2 PRSs to the AA.

The US-based company said at the time that the UASs would be used to support surveillance and reconnaissance operations at platoon and troop level, adding that deliveries were expected to commence in 2018 and be completed within one year.

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