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June, 25
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    Australia ‘Blocks’ Russia & China From Its Avalon Air Show; BAE Unveils New ‘100 Kg’ STRIX VTOL Uncrewed Air System

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    Australia’s Avalon International Air Show, which began April 28, exhibits a wide range of new defense technologies, including a new Australian-made lethal drone. However, Russia and China were not permitted to take part in the airshow. 

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    The AMDA Foundation, a non-profit organization that supports the advancement of aviation and industrial, manufacturing, and communication technology, said that there are 798 exhibiting firms on the runways and chalets, which is a 14% increase over the 2019 show. 

    There are also 234 industry, government, defense, and scientific delegations, approximately 50% more than the previous show. 

    Furthermore, this year’s exhibition will also feature 56 international delegations, including 22 chiefs of service.

    Unmanned aerial technology is already establishing itself as a major air show theme. Australia’s air force chief indicates that the defense department may soon purchase a significant number of reasonably priced, lethal drones to achieve a greater “mass” against well-armed opponents.

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    220314_aus_f35s_formation_S20203790
    F-35 Lightning II aircraft from RAAF Base Williamtown fly off the coast of Newcastle on November 23, 2020. (Australian Air Force)

    The significance of air superiority was emphasized on February 27 evening by Air Marshal Rob Chipman, who told conference attendees that the nation’s competitive advantage—achieved via strength, readiness, and partnerships—will be crucial in future conflict prevention. 

    The RAAF chief also noted that Australia must invest in the humans who will keep their competitive advantage; it is not only about the platforms and technology.

    According to Defense Industries Minister Pat Conroy, the expo is the premier airshow in Australia, if not the entire southern hemisphere. But China and Russia will not showcase their products at the Australian expo. 

    The Australian Defense Department has stated that neither China nor Russia were invited to participate in Avalon 2023 due to escalating strategic tensions in the Indo-Pacific and the Ukraine War. 

    In 2022, Vice Admiral Mike Noonan, who was then in charge of the navy, also revoked invitations to China and Russia to attend a naval conference in Sydney because of deteriorating ties. 

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    ALSO READ: Has Iran Armed Moscow With ‘Drone Boats’ That Russia Allegedly Used To Strike Critical Ukrainian Bridge?

    BAE Unveils A New Australian-Developed Drone 

    A new Australian-developed armed drone capable of transporting a potentially lethal payload weighing well over 100 kilograms was unveiled at Avalon 2023.

    Designed to be transported in shipping containers, the uncrewed air system was created by BAE Systems Australia. The designers of this UAV believe that the deadly drone may be produced locally within three years. 

    The STRIX, developed by BAE Systems and Perth-based Innovaero, is Australia’s first domestically designed, manufactured, and armed VTOL (vertical take-off and landing) uncrewed air system (UAS), according to the company. 

    The firm said that the partnership merges Innovaero’s experience in designing and manufacturing aerospace products for the Australian market with BAE Systems’ expertise in autonomous platforms and its vehicle management system (VMS) technology.

    STRIX is a hybrid, tandem-wing, multi-domain, and multi-role UAS capable of carrying out several tasks, like persistent intelligence, surveillance, reconnaissance, and air-to-ground strikes against hostile targets (ISR). It might also serve as a military helicopter’s “loyal wingman.”

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    File Image: Strix drone

    STRIX can operate in high-risk areas and is designed to transport up to a 160 kilograms payload over 800 kilometers. STRIX could be utilized without a runway, thanks to its VTOL capability.

    A helicopter might also control it to increase the mission set and safeguard the personnel in dangerous situations.

    At the same time, BAE Systems unveiled its ideas for a novel sovereign munition concept called RAZER, establishing itself as a possible supplier of low-cost precision-guided munitions to Australian and international clients.

    The RAZER precision-guided munition transforms a normal non-guided munition weighing 40 to 50 kg into a low-cost, high-precision air-launched weapon.

    The RAZER system, designed for use with operations from the rotary wing and Uncrewed Combat Air Vehicles (UCAV), comprises a wing/body kit and tail unit fitted with a powered GPS/INS guidance control and navigation system.

    According to the company, STRIX will strive to enhance Australian sovereign capability by utilizing domestic skills, such as fast prototyping and aircraft concept design from Innovaero. 

    Also, there will be opportunities for SMEs and academic institutions in other parts of Australia to participate in the prototype’s creation, delivery, and flight testing.

    Another Australian-designed uncrewed system, called MQ-28A ‘Ghost Bat,’ was publicly unveiled during the 2019 Avalon Airshow after being discreetly developed by aerospace giant Boeing in cooperation with the RAAF and the Defense Department.

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