BAE Systems Australia has teamed with local industry to present Australia’s first domestically designed, manufactured and armed VTOL (vertical take-off and landing) drone.
STRIX is being developed by BAE and Perth-based Innovaero and was launched yesterday at the 2023 Avalon Airshow in Geelong, Australia.
The collaboration brings together BAE’s 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.
A hybrid, tandem wing, multi-domain and multi-role UAS capability, STRIX could 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 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.
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. We will also deliver a new low-cost precision guided munition, known as RAZER, which could be integrated onto the platform to complement STRIX‘s strike capability.
BAE Systems Australia chief executive officer, Ben Hudson, said: “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.
“STRIX could be ready for operational service as soon as 2026 and work is already underway on a STRIX prototype. 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.”