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Wasp provides soldiers with a ‘set of flying binoculars’
A NEW world-class surveillance and
reconnaissance capability will give
soldiers an edge on the frontline.
Government approved Project Land
129 Phase 4A on June 1, with Defence
Minister Marise Payne and Defence
Industry Minister Christopher Pyne
announcing the $101m investment into
small unmanned aerial systems (SUAS).
Minister Payne said the capability
would be acquired in two tranches, with
the Wasp All Environment (AE) UAS cho-
sen as the preferred option for the first
tranche to meet an immediate need.
The $101m in funding is for the first
tranche of the capability.
When speaking to a student on a recent
Wasp training course, Land 129 Phase 4A
Project Manager Maj Simon Millsted, of
AHQ, said the words “this is a good piece
of kit” were what every AHQ staff officer
wanted to hear about the equipment he or
she helped bring into service.
The student, one of 16, was attending
a course to train operators and instructors
on the Wasp AE.
The course was conducted by the
School of Artillery at Puckapunyal in
May and, following the classroom lectures
covering airworthiness and Civil Aviation
Safety Authority requirements, the stu-
dents spent the majority of their time in
the training area using the equipment and
learning how to use the Wasp.
“The SUAS is designed to be carried
in a backpack and is predominantly for
use by a foot patrol,” Maj Millsted said.
“It can be in the air within 10 minutes
and allows the patrol commander to see
over the hill, down the road and around
For the soldier, this means he or she
does not have to carry out this task. This
“set of flying binoculars” can see by day
or night and provides the patrol command-
er with enhanced situational awareness
to successfully avoid or engage poten-
tially hostile elements to achieve mission
The project will roll out from 2018 and
will begin with the Wasp being delivered
to the School of Artillery and Socomd.
By the end of the introduction into
service, every combat team in Army will
have access to the capability.
SO1 UAS Lt-Col Keirin Joyce, of
AHQ, said government began the SUAS
project in the 2009 Defence White Paper.
“It’s exciting to deliver the equipment
at the end of the process,” he said.
The Wasps currently in use were
acquired as an Army Innovation Day initi-
ative in 2014 and will continue to be used
during the roll out, but will have reached
the end of their useful life by the time they
are replaced by the newer and updated
Wasp AE SUAS.
Army has acquired the Wasp through
X-Tek, an Australian company operating
in Canberra, which will provide ongoing
support to the Wasp AE while in Army
“It is truly an all-environment capabili-
ty with the ability to cope with river cross-
ings, monsoonal weather and fly in most
weather conditions,” Lt-Col Joyce said.
“It really is a good piece of kit.”
ARMY is standing up a drone
With the main goal of com-
peting at the Australian Drone
Nationals, team selections will
be made from across Army
units and locations.
Lt Reilly O’Neill, of AHQ,
said selectors were interested
in first-person view multi-rotor
racing, and would eventually
branch out into other areas
such as freestyle and photog-
“Winners at nationals then
have the opportunity to move
onto the world championships,”
“As well as racing, the team
will work closely with Defence
Force Recruiting to promote
trade opportunities in Defence
and provide support to events
such as the Avalon Air Show,
Bathurst 1000, Summernats,
Formula 1 and many more.”
The Army Drone Racing
Team demos will partner initia-
tives like Project Digger and
“We need soldiers who
already participate in the
sport to start talking about the
team, get excited and jump in,”
Lt O’Neill said.
“Wildcard positions are
available for Army racers at
this year’s nationals in July on
the Gold Coast.”
Lt O’Neill said selectors
were committed to making
this a viable sporting team,
whose members engaged in
weekend social activities and
provided greater support to
Army through multiple avenues
Members of the Army
Aviation Program are work-
ing on the proposal and it is
being championed by SO1
Unmanned Aerial Systems,
Lt-Col Keirin Joyce, of AHQ.
For more information, contact Lt Reilly
O’Neill at email@example.com
Calling drone racers
Cpl Cory Holland, of 2/14 LHR
(QMI), launches a Wasp AE small
unmanned aerial vehicle at
Gallipoli Barracks, Brisbane.
Photo: Sgt Janine Fabre
Bdr David Elliot, of the School of
Artillery, prepares to launch the Wasp
AE at Puckapunyal, Victoria.
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