Black Hornet Nano unmanned aerial systems in Australian army
The Australian Army is currently the biggest user of Nano UAS in the world. It is also the first in the world to proliferate the technology to the conventional forces down to combat platoon level.
The Australian Army operate several UAS, ranging from the nano-sized reconnaissance Black Hornet to large, nine-hour endurance surveillance systems such as the Shadow 200. (Picture source: Australian DoD)
As recently announced by the Australian Department of Defence, unmanned aerial systems (UAS) will soon be rolled out to Australian Army soldiers in Brisbane following the completion of the Black Hornet Nano UAS Program.
The Black Hornet Nano UAS rollout and sustainment is an A$18 million project and is a key capability milestone for the Army as it continues to be a technologically advanced force.
According to the press statement, the Australian Army has been the largest and most experienced operator of UAS in the country for well over a decade. The Australian Army operate several UAS, ranging from the nano-sized reconnaissance Black Hornet to large, nine-hour endurance surveillance systems such as the Shadow 200.
Brigadier Susan Coyle, Commander 6th Brigade and the Army’s only UAS unit, the 20th Surveillance Target Acquisition Regiment, said the Black Hornet Nano UAS rollout was a significant achievement for Army. “UAS are a game-changer for the Army, providing enhanced situational awareness for better mission execution for Australian soldiers,” said Brigadier Coyle. “The issue of the Black Hornet Nano UAS to our soldiers is an exciting example of adopting tactical robotic technology,” she added.
In October 2017, FLIR Systems announced that it had been awarded a US$ 6.8 million contract to deliver Black Hornet Personal Reconnaissance Systems (PRS) to the Australian Army. The UAS units will support platoon and troop level organic surveillance and reconnaissance capabilities. The Australian Army previously purchased the Black Hornet PRS for test and evaluation purposes, leading to the awarded contract for full operational deployment after a re-competed tender.
In June 2017, Minister for Defence, Senator the Hon Marise Payne, and Minister for Defence Industry, the Hon Christopher Pyne MP, also annpunced an A$101 million investment into small UAS to support the Australian Defence Force. Minister Payne said the systems were small enough to be carried, assembled and used by one person, and allowed the soldier to 'see over the hill, around the corner and down the road'.
“Importantly, a significant proportion of this investment will remain in Australia, with local industry content valued at approximately $11 million for acquisition, plus up to $4 million each year for sustainment,” said Minister Pyne. According to the statement, Australian Defence will work closely with Australian industry through the Centre for Defence Industry Capability to maximise opportunities for local companies to get involved in this important project to ensure that the investment would provide opportunities for Australian industry.