Australia’s Defense Ministry recently stated that it would “carefully” review a billion-dollar purchase of reconnaissance drones from its previous minister, which has sparked widespread concern given that China and Russia have also used it—the West’s two main adversaries. Not to mention that the Austrian manufacturer of the spy drone, Schiebel, has been accused by human rights groups of supplying its unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) to Myanmar’s junta government in apparent violation of European Union sanctions.
A Controversial Contract
Last week, current Prime Minister Anthony Albanese stated that the controversial decision to award Schiebel the sole-source contract for the maritime Project SEA 129 Phase 5 would be thoroughly investigated. The previous administration allegedly hand-picked the Austrian company, subsequently scrapping its initial competitive evaluation process, in which rival American and British bids participated.
The US defense giant Raytheon has been appointed the “prime system integrator” for the maritime unmanned aerial system (UAS) program. Raytheon Australia would be responsible for “scrutinizing and approving” the appropriate level of protection of its S-100 Camcopter system.