Aerial Warfare

Australian Army to Deploy Locally Made Lethal Drone “The Owl” This Year

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Australian Army to Deploy Locally Made Lethal Drone “The Owl” This Year

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Owl (One-Way Loitering) Drone
Owl (One-Way Loitering) Drone

The Australian Army is set to enhance its combat capabilities with the introduction of the locally manufactured “Owl” (One-Way Loitering) drone, an electrically powered one-way loitering munition. This innovative unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) is capable of traveling nearly 200 kilometers or loitering in the air for 30 minutes while carrying a lethal payload. Developed by Western Australia-based Innovaero in collaboration with Boeing subsidiary Insitu Pacific, the Owl is expected to be operational before the end of the year. The Owl has been in development with the Australian Army since 2022. The UAV is designed for seamless integration with other drones and systems being acquired by the Australian Defence Force (ADF). Since May 2022, Innovaero has been awarded over $5.3 million in Defence contracts to design, develop, build, and test the aircraft, reflecting the government’s commitment to advancing its drone warfare capabilities.

The introduction of the Owl comes at a time when the significance of armed drone warfare has been underscored by recent global conflicts, such as Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. Military experts have criticized Australia for its perceived lag in acquiring cutting-edge drone technology. The Owl’s deployment aligns with the National Defence Strategy and the Integrated Investment Program, emphasizing the need for the ADF to adopt the latest technologies to maintain a competitive edge in modern warfare. The partnership between Innovaero and Insitu Pacific aims to provide a versatile solution for the complex modern battlespace. The Owl will work in conjunction with Insitu Pacific’s Integrator, a system that offers intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance (ISR) capabilities. This integrated approach will allow for long-range strike operations without risking larger, crewed air assets.

Innovaero’s OWL-B is launched from Insitu Pacific’s Mark 4 Launcher
Innovaero’s OWL-B is launched from Insitu Pacific’s Mark 4 Launcher. (Photo by Innovaero)

The trials currently underway involve testing from various platforms, including maritime, land, and air, both domestically and internationally. These efforts are crucial to ensuring that the ADF can effectively deploy the latest technology. The successful integration of the Owl into the Australian Army’s arsenal could lead to its deployment across most combat units in the future. Operators will control the Owl and the Integrator using Insitu Pacific’s common ground control station (GCS) and INEXA software, streamlining the command process. This unified system aims to deliver rapid, direct effects in the engagement zone, enhancing the ADF’s operational capabilities without putting human crews at risk. The introduction of the Owl drone represents a significant step forward for the Australian Army, providing a formidable new tool in its arsenal that promises to enhance both the reach and effectiveness of its combat operations.

Innovaero is an Australian company that delivers innovative sovereign aeronautical design, certification, manufacturing, and sustainment. Innovaero has a track record of delivering world-class outcomes for clients in Australia, the United States and Canada. Located on both the West and East Coast of Australia, Innovaero provides end-to-end sovereign industrial capability including product design, certification, manufacturing, systems integration, and support services that enable customers to see beyond adversaries and respond decisively.

Located in Brisbane, Australia Insitu Pacific was established in 2009 as a division of Insitu Inc and serves defence customers across the Asia-Pacific region and global commercial customers. We utilise expert in-house knowledge and skills to deliver trusted and proven uncrewed aircraft systems and end-to-end solutions for collecting, processing and managing sensor data. To date, Insitu systems have accumulated more than 1.4 million flight hours. Insitu Pacific is a wholly owned subsidiary of The Boeing Company.

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