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27 Nov 19. Australia announces down-selection of AIR 7003 platform. The federal government’s $1.3bn program to deliver a cutting-edge armed remotely piloted aircraft system to Australia is one step closer after the announcement of the down-selection of a preferred platform for the AIR 7003 project.

Defence Connect can confirm that General Atomics’ MQ-9B ‘Sky Guardian’ has been selected by Defence as the preferred platform for the project.

Following this decision, the next phase for AIR 7003 will focus on developing the MQ-9B acquisition proposal, which is scheduled for government consideration in 2021-22.

Minister for Defence Linda Reynolds said this project will deliver Australia’s first armed medium-altitude long-endurance remotely piloted aircraft system.

“Cutting-edge technology of this kind, with advanced sensors and systems, would complement advanced aircraft such as the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter and ensure that Australian Defence Force maintains state-of-the-art capability,” Minister Reynolds said.

Minister for Defence Industry Melissa Price encouraged Australian industry to become involved in this billion-dollar project.

“Local companies that provide a range of innovative sensor, communication, manufacturing and life-cycle support capabilities will have the opportunity to showcase their capabilities throughout this development process,” Minister Price said.

“Australian defence industries are world-class and are extremely well-placed to be involved in projects like this.” (Source: Defence Connect)

27 Nov 19. UK Watchkeeper UAV flies from Cyprus.  British Army Watchkeeper tactical unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) have deployed to the UK air base in Cyprus for a six-month training mission. The deployment by 47 Regiment Royal Artillery, the British Army’s only unit equipped with the Watchkeeper, is aimed at boosting the pilot competency and currency of crews, according to a senior British Army source. Exercise ‘Athena Rebus’ is also testing “the logistical aspects of an overseas deployment” of Watchkeeper units, the source told Jane’s on 26 November. “It is expected to run from September 2019 to April 2020.” The WK450 Equipment Standard 2 variant, which received its release to service (RTS) approval in April 2019, is deployed to Cyprus for the exercise. (Source: IHS Jane’s)

26 Nov 19. Auterion and Avy Collaborate on BVLOS VTOL UAV. Auterion, an open-source based operating system for enterprise drones, and Avy, a pioneer in innovative unmanned aviation technologies with a focus on life-saving missions and applications, have announced a partnership to enable a vertical takeoff and landing (VTOL) drone for medical deliveries, first responder, sustainable logistics, and wildlife conservation operations. Use cases for drones are becoming increasingly popular as more operators search for solutions to enable long-range, beyond visual line of sight (BVLOS) missions while maintaining safety and compliance. This partnership addresses these new demands with the introduction of the Avy Aera VTOL winged drone, for long-distance flights with modular payload capabilities and integrated avionics systems.

The Avy Aera drone will leverage the complete Auterion software platform, including the operating system, Auterion Enterprise PX4, the Auterion Ground Station software for flight planning, and Auterion Insights for flight, safety, and compliance management.

The Avy Aera gives emergency services, mapping companies, and medical delivery enterprises a new tool to cover large areas in a short time. The integration around open standards makes it easy for operators to integrate the Avy Aera drones within their existing services,” said Kevin Sartori, Auterion co-founder.

Designed to meet the latest EU regulations and with a range of over 100 km carrying cargo or sensor payloads up to 1,5kg, the Avy Aera is equipped with onboard redundant communication links (RF, LTE, Satlink) and ADS-B transponder. Avy Aera is able to operate BVLOS and is compliant with the upcoming EASA regulations, by following the SORA framework.

“By taking our technological performance one step further and focusing on operations, we’ve developed an aircraft that is ready for the strict aviation regulations and to operate over densely populated areas. The Avy Aera is quick, sleek, reliable, and equipped to disrupt the aviation ecosystem,” said Patrique Zaman, CEO of Avy. (Source: UAS VISION)


The British Robotics Seed Fund is the first SEIS-qualifying investment fund specialising in UK-based robotics businesses. The focus of the fund is to deliver superior returns to investors by making targeted investments in a mixed basket of the most innovative and disruptive businesses that are exploiting the new generation of robotics technologies in defence and other sector applications.

Automation and robotisation are beginning to drive significant productivity improvements in the global economy heralding a new industrial revolution. The fund allows investors to benefit from this exciting opportunity, whilst also delivering the extremely attractive tax reliefs offered by the Seed Enterprise Investment Scheme (SEIS). For many private investors, the amount of specialist knowledge required to assess investments in robotics is not practical and hence investing through a fund structure makes good sense.

The fund appoints expert mentors to work with each investee company to further maximise the chance of success for investors. Further details are available on request.



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