BAE Systems has unveiled Australia’s first indigenous military drone

BAE Systems Australia and another local manufacturer on Tuesday unveiled a new unmanned military aircraft capable of vertical takeoff and landing, originally designed, manufactured and armed in Australia.

The 2.6 meter by 4.5 meter (8.5 ft by 14.8 ft) Strix Unmanned Aerial System (UAS), launched at the Avalon Air Show, is “capable of air attack, surveillance and reconnaissance in high-risk environments”.

A prototype is underway and will be operational by 2026, said Ben Hudson, chief executive of BAE Systems Australia, a wholly-owned subsidiary of BAE Systems, the UK’s largest defense company.

“We are delighted that this is the first UAS of its type developed in Australia and look forward to working with partners across the country to deliver this capability to customers,” Hudson said.

Developed in partnership with Perth-based Innovaero, the STRIX can carry up to 160 kilograms (353 pounds) for a range of 800 kilometers and land vertically. It is stored in sea containers.

The drone can also act as a “loyal wingman” for military helicopters and work alongside more expensive unmanned aerial vehicles.

BAE Systems project manager Natalie Waldi said the STRIX could be exported to allied countries and that there was strong interest from two unnamed international customers.

The company has been in contact with the Australian Defense Force, but says the drone was not developed in response to the tender.

BAE Systems Australia will also offer a new low-cost precision-guided munition called the RAZER that can be used with the STRIX.

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