Five firms shortlisted for Australia’s SEA129 Phase 5 program

The Royal Australian Navy’s Maritime Unmanned Aircraft System Continuous Development Program has reached a new milestone following the selection of five respondents to progress to the next phase of the procurement process.

BAE Systems Australia, Insitu Pacific, Northrop Grumman Australia, Raytheon Australia, and Textron Systems Australia have been shortlisted for Block One of SEA129 Phase 5, Acting Minister for Defence, Senator the Hon Marise Payne, said on 23 March.

Leonardo AWHERO – First Ocean 2020 sea trial demonstration. Source: Leonardo S.p.A.

“This program will acquire maritime unmanned intelligence, surveillance, reconnaissance and targeting aircraft systems which will complement current sensors and systems on navy’s ships, while boosting a ship’s area of surveillance,” Minister Payne said.

Block One of the program is the first phase of a 30-year continuous development program, with five-year rolling block upgrades, which will incorporate new technology upgrades.

“By incorporating new technology through block upgrades every five years, the program supports the development of Australia’s unmanned aircraft system industry, and provides the navy with a leading edge maritime surveillance capability,” Minister for Defence Industry Melissa Price said.

“This process will allow Australian businesses to be directly involved in providing greater situational awareness for the fleet, in particular the new Arafura offshore patrol vessels, while strengthening long-term job growth and security.”

Future opportunities will be available in forthcoming Blocks of SEA129 Phase 5 from 2024.