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Australian Army seeks logistics UAVs

An Australian Army trooper launches a Wasp AE UAV during an exercise in Queensland in August 2021. The Australian Army has contracted three companies from eastern Australia to develop UAVs that can support logistics operations as it accelerates efforts to automate supply and casualty evacuation missions. (Commonwealth of Australia)

The Australian Army is encouraging industry to develop unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) that can facilitate logistics operations.

Three companies from eastern Australia have been contracted to develop medium-lift and heavy-lift UAVs after their ideas were selected at Army Innovation Day (AID) 2022, the Australian Department of Defence (DoD) said on 11 September.

AID is the Australian Army's annual flagship event for reviewing innovation concepts by industry for technologies and systems that can enhance the capabilities of the force.

Queensland-based Jabiru Aircraft and Crystalaid and New South Wales-based Geodrones have secured contracts to develop cargo UAVs that can help carry ammunition or rations to deployed troops and conduct casualty evacuation (CASEVAC) in “restricted terrain or high-risk environments”, the DoD said.

Jabiru Aircraft is developing a medium-lift co-axial quadcopter expected to be able to carry 50 kg of load. The UAV is being designed to grab handles of a trunk that will contain the cargo, carry it up to 150 km, and drop it off, the DoD said quoting Michael Halloran, executive director of Jabiru.

The range of the UAV can be increased with lesser payload and more fuel, Halloran said.

“Two big, co-axial rotors give the design lift, while four small rotors at the side move the craft, all powered by a four-cylinder petrol engine,” the DoD said.

Jabiru Aircraft expects to develop a full-size prototype of the UAV by the end of 2024, the DoD said. Halloran declined Janes

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