Perth-based Orbital UAV has been selected by the Texas company Skyways to support the development of unmanned capability for the US Navy.
Orbital UAV has signed a memorandum of understanding with Skyways, tasked with delivering a pre-production, heavy fuel engine for integration into Skyways’ unmanned air system (UAS) and subsequent flight testing.
The Australian company is scheduled to complete the delivery in the first quarter of the 2022 calendar year, before returning to Orbital UAV for evaluation once the flight testing is complete.
“Working with Skyways represents an exciting new development within the unmanned market for the company,” Todd Alder, CEO and managing director of Orbital UAV, said.
“Skyways has established itself at the forefront of unmanned cargo transportation for the US Navy – a growing and critical requirement within the service. Skyways continues to develop its platform to meet challenging requirements, including the platform’s ability to run efficiently on heavy fuel.”
This deal forms part of Skyways’ contract with the US Navy’s Naval Air Warfare Center Aircraft Division (NAWCAD) to provide a UAS prototype, built for long-range naval ship-to-ship and ship-to-shore cargo transport.
NAWCAD is investing in unmanned air systems capability for applications requiring naval cargo transport vehicles that can operate through difficult environments, including heavy winds, open water and pitching vessels at sea.
This is a response to research which suggests warships often move to non-mission capable or partially mission capable status due to logistics-related issues.
It comes after Orbital UAV last month unveiled plans to leverage newly secured government funding to expand its production capacity, after being awarded $195,624 from the Australian Defence Force under the Defence Global Competitiveness Grants program.
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The drone firm confirmed it would leverage the funding to expand its production capability ahead of the commissioning of additional engine production lines at its Balcatta operation.
“With two UAV engine models in production and a further three engine production lines scheduled to enter operation over the next 12 months, this grant will fund the purchase of additional inspection and verification equipment and support the increased throughput of development and production parts,” Alder said.
“We are delighted to receive this funding and are greatly appreciative of the support Orbital UAV has continued to receive as we build our business and look to support Australia’s sovereign capability objectives.”
The company’s receipt of the grant coincided with the visit of the Australian Army’s 13th Brigade to its Balcatta headquarters at Irwin Barracks, Karrakatta.
The 13th Brigade’s Commander, Brigadier Brett Chaloner CSC; Innovation Major, Major Simon Powell; and Command Liaison Officer Captain Jason Tuna were among the visitors.
“Change, growth and innovation are at the heart of our transformation and supporting that is our increased engagement and understanding of Defence industry capability in our State,” BRIG Chaloner said.
“It is exciting to see the unique capability that Orbital UAV has here in WA and explore opportunities to work together to deliver on state and nationwide strategic defence objectives.”
Martin Johnston, chief operating officer of Orbital UAV, welcomed the visit.
“It was a pleasure to host members of 13th Brigade,” Johnson said.
“As we continue to develop our technologies and look to expand our capabilities within defence industry, having this engagement and understanding the long-term objectives and needs of the ADF and end-users of our products is incredibly valuable.”
Article courtesy of Defence Connect.
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