BAE Systems Australia has unveiled a new, hybrid, tandem wing, multi-domain and multi-role VTOL (vertical take-off and landing) uncrewed air system (UAS).
The STRIX could be used for a variety of missions, including an air-to-ground strike against hostile targets and persistent intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance (ISR). It could also act as a ‘loyal wingman’ – style force multiplier to accompany military helicopters.
The aircraft is being developed by BAE Systems Australia together with Perth-based Innovaero and was launched at the 2023 Avalon Airshow in Geelong, Australia.
Designed to carry up to a 160 kg payload over 800 km (500 miles), 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 the standard shipping. Thanks to its VTOL capability, the 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.
The STRIX VMS already guides platforms, the M113 for the Australian Army’s autonomous systems program and the MQ-28 Ghost Bat drone for the Royal Australian Air Force’s autonomy program.
The uncrewed air system 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.
The military aircraft will have the capacity to accommodate a range of munition types, including those currently in service with the Australian Defense Force. The team will also deliver a new low-cost precision-guided munition, known as RAXER, which could be integrated into the platform to complement STRIX’s strike capability.
“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,” said Ben Hudson, BAE Systems Australia Chief Executive Officer.
“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.”