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AVALON 2023: BAE Systems unveils STRIX UAS

BAE Systems Australia has teamed with Perth-based SME Innovaero to launch Australia’s first domestically designed, manufactured and armed VTOL (Vertical Take-Off and Landing) Uncrewed Air System (UAS), STRIXTM, at Avalon 2023

The STRIX UAS collaboration brings together BAE Systems’ global expertise in autonomous platforms and its Vehicle Management System (VMS) technology with Innovaero’s knowledge of aeronautical product design and manufacture in the Australian market.

“STRIX could be ready for operational service as soon as 2026 and work is already underway on a STRIX prototype,” said Ben Hudson, CEO of BAE Systems Australia. “STRIX leverages existing, proven technologies to provide an affordable and cost-effective capability that is mission configurable and upgradable in response to emerging technologies or threats.

“We’re excited that this is the first UAS of its kind to be developed in Australia and look forward to working with partners across the country to deliver this capability to customers.”

A hybrid, tandem wing, multi-domain and multi-role UAS, STRIX can be used for a variety of missions including air to ground strike against hostile targets and persistent Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance (ISR). It could also act as a ‘loyal wingman’ for military helicopters.

Designed to carry up to a 160kg payload over 800km, STRIX will be capable of operating in high-risk environments. With a collapsed footprint of 2.6m x 4.5m, it could be easily transported in a standard 20 -foot ISO shipping container. Its VTOL capability means STRIX could be used without relying on an airfield. It could also be operated from a helicopter to expand the mission set and protect aircrew in high-threat environments.

Perth-based Innovaero is a 100% Australian-owned aeronautical product design, certification and manufacturing company, with a track record of delivering successful outcomes for clients in Australia. It is globally recognised for its innovation, including its world leading aerial camera array solutions which won the Avalon 2019 Innovation Award.

Innovaero Group CEO Simon Grosser said the design and development of STRIX demonstrated the company’s capabilities to the Defence sector. This is the first collaborative venture for both companies in the Australian marketplace on emerging UAS capabilities for the Defence market.

“To witness the capability STRIX will provide to Defence, through partnering with BAE Systems Australia, is very exciting,” Mr Grosser said.  “STRIX has the potential payload capacity, range, speed, and advanced autonomy to provide real differential over current market offerings.”

“Innovaero is an amazing team of passionate Australians specialising in novel airborne systems,” Hudson said, paying tribute to the team at Innovaero for the work delivered to date on the STRIX model and prototype. “STRIX is a real testament to the culture that [founder Mike von Bertouch] has developed at Innovaero.”

BAE Systems has an extensive history of developing autonomous systems globally, including the UK-designed Taranis and Mantis uncrewed autonomous demonstrator aircraft, for which the company’s Australian subsidiary developed the VMS. The STRIX VMS is already in use aboard other platforms, including the M113 for the Australian Army’s autonomous systems program and MQ-28 Ghost Bat for the Royal Australian Air Force’s autonomy program.

“We are continuously exploring how we can support the challenges customers face in both the near term and future battlespace,” added Hudson. “Alongside core defence programs, we are developing a range of autonomous systems and future concepts.

STRIX will look to increase Australian sovereign capability by leveraging domestic expertise, such as Innovaero’s aircraft concept design and rapid prototyping. There will also be opportunities for wider Australian SMEs and academia to get involved in the development, delivery and flight test of the prototype.”

STRIX will have the capacity to accommodate a range of munition types, including those currently in service with the Australian Defence Force.  However, BAE Systems Australia is also developing a new low-cost precision guided munition, known as RAZER, which could be integrated onto the platform to complement STRIX‘s strike capability.

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