‘Sovereign capability’ to benefit from unmanned aerial surveillance systems, defence minister says

By Melissa Coade

March 15, 2022

Peter Dutton
Running unopposed for party leadership, Peter Dutton. (AAP Image/Darren England)

The government will spend hundreds of millions of dollars to purchase 24 aerial surveillance systems for the army.

The infrastructure will be manufactured in Brisbane by Boeing’s Insitu Pacific Ltd under an initial contract worth $307 million. In total, 80% of the $650 million budget for the project will be invested in Australian manufacturing and maintenance of the defence equipment. 

Defence minister Peter Dutton announced the investment last week and issued a statement saying the ‘Integrator’ platform and associated ground systems and integration services would enhance the ADF’s capabilities. 

“This project will enhance the Australian army’s capabilities by harnessing the innovation and cutting-edge technologies being developed right here in Australia,” the minister said. 

“Insitu Pacific Pty Ltd will manufacture the new platform at their facility in Brisbane and integrate components provided by suppliers from around Queensland and across Australia.”

The unmanned aerial surveillance systems will improve the way defence personnel gathered intelligence, undertook reconnaissance and surveillance missions and acquired targets for weapons systems, Dutton added. 

“To support the delivery of this capability, the federal government will also invest $56 million in facilities at Gallipoli Barracks in Enoggera.

“We will also see an upgrade to a number of our Bushmasters, and associated sustainment over the next decade,” Dutton said. 

The 24 new uncrewed aerial surveillance systems are expected to be delivered in 2023 and 2024.

Brisbane MP Trevor Evans said the investment in local advanced manufacturing would grow jobs in Queensland, supporting at least 130 new and existing jobs.

“People may not have always associated Brisbane with the defence industry in the past, but projects like this demonstrate the real opportunities advanced manufacturing can offer now and into the future,” Evans said.

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