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Defence agrees $8m deal for bird-sized drone spare parts

written by Adam Thorn | June 7, 2022

Canberra-based XTEK has won an $8.1 million deal to supply spare parts to Defence’s fleet of bird-sized drones.

The tech business also announced it has signed a two-year extension to a separate support contract for Australia’s small unmanned aerial systems (SUAS).

XTEK’s CEO Scott Basham said, “The spare parts to be purchased under these orders will be held in our state-of-the-art SUAS repair facility in Canberra and will be used to keep this important SUAS capability operational for Defence for years to come,” he said.

Basham recently spoke to Australian Aviation’s new digital In-Focus edition as part of a feature examining whether miniature drones are the next generation of defence aircraft.

XTEK was selected in March to provide the Department of Defence with its “Wasp”, small unmanned aerial systems (SUAS) drone platform.

The company delivers its ballistics armour and its small drones to Defence and is an exclusive seller of the Wasp platforms, which are owned by United States company AeroVironment.

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The SUAS offering is designed to keep an eye in the sky on its opponents and will operate more discreetly than any other spy technology.

According to Basham, the Wasp was chosen due to its longstanding proven capabilities.

“Wasp, in particular, has been around for a number of years prior and is a well-proven platform and it delivers all of the capabilities including being all environment,” he said. The overall contract between the ADF and XTEK was penned a few years ago, and Basham said that only until recently, there has been a ramp-up of other locally made, capable drones.

But at the time – and still now – he believes the Wasp remains superior. “Early models of some Australian-made and other international models didn’t quite necessarily meet all of the requirements that defence was looking for at the time,” Basham said.

The Wasp is an all-environment drone, meaning it can be used anywhere and everywhere, such as in the water and high in the sky.

It has an endurance of 50 minutes, can be packed into a soldier’s bag with ease, and has a range of five kilometres line-of-sight.

When it was first announced XTEK would deliver smaller drones to defence in 2017, the Australian government nodded to their previous success in Afghanistan and Iraq, and said it wanted that same capability for Australia.

To read more, check out the full article here.

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