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Australian Army's future TUAS to feature locally developed camera gimbal

The Australian Department of Defence (DoD) announced on 5 May that the platform selected to replace the Australian Army’s Shadow 200 tactical unmanned aerial system (TUAS) will be equipped with locally developed camera sensor technology featuring “next-generation intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance (ISR) capabilities”.

“Recent progress in the ongoing tender evaluation process for the ‘Tactical UAS Replacement and Enhancement Project’ (Land 129 Phase 3) has confirmed [that] the CM234 Spitfire camera gimbal will be incorporated into the Australian Army’s new tactical UAS,” said the DoD in a statement.

Brigadier James Allen, director general Army Aviation Systems, described the new camera gimbal as a “generational leap” in optical camera sensor and image stabilisation technology that offers “a significant capability advantage” for the Australian military.

“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,” he said in the statement.

The CM234 Spitfire was developed by Melbourne-based company Ascent Vision Technologies, with support and investment from the government’s Defence Innovation Hub.

“This Australian invention will allow capabilities traditionally reserved for manned aviation systems to be introduced on TUASs,” Australia’s Assistant Secretary Defence Capability and Innovation, Andrew Hodgkinson, was quoted by the DoD as saying, adding that the new imaging system uses “electro-optical, short-wave, and medium-wave infrared cameras, along with laser rangefinding and target designation technology”.

The DoD noted that Insitu Pacific and Textron Systems Australia have been selected as the final two of four shortlisted companies (which previously included Leidos Australia and Raytheon Australia) in the tender evaluation process for Land 129 Phase 3.

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