Two Australian defence industry firms will compete against 13 other teams from across the world for innovation funding from the Canadian government later this year as a part of its bi-annual counter uncrewed aerial systems sandbox.
AIM Defence and EOS Defence Systems will participate in a series of demonstration events as a part of the Canadian Innovation for Defence Excellence and Security (IDEaS), Counter Uncrewed Aerial Systems (CUAS) Sandbox 2024.
The winner of the exercise will be paid CA$1 million, with second and third place to be awarded $500,000 and $250,000. This will be determined based on their short-term growth potential, as determined by the Department of National Defence and the Canadian Armed Forces.
The three-week exercise will test the ability of CUAS prototypes to detect and defeat micro (<2kg) and mini (2-15kg) drones in operational scenarios, according to the Canadian government.
The 2024 CUAS Sandbox will run from May to June 2024 in Alberta, Canada. This year is the first time that high power lasers, such as AIM’s Fractl has been included in the Sandbox exercise.
In initial application guidelines, the Canadian government said participants could receive initial funding of up to $20,000 to fund attendance at the Sandbox, which includes travel and hotel expenses.
AIM touts its Fractl system as a “lightweight, portable, and battery-powered system that can burn through steel and can shoot down a drone travelling at 100km/hour”. It can also be remotely operated and can be integrated into existing military systems.
In a statement, AIM Defence co-founder Dr Jae Daniel said the Sandbox is “an important opportunity for AIM Defence to demonstrate Fractl’s precision tracking and targeting in a variety of defensive operations”.
EOS previously participated in the 2022 edition of the CUAS Sandbox and recently sold $15 million worth of its Slinger counter-drone systems to German defence manufacturer Diehl Defence. The system can hit moving drones at a distance of more than 800 metres.
The Slinger utilise ammunition designed for built up environments and includes a “a radar system, a range of weapon configurations and EOS’ proprietary stabilisation and pointing technology”, according to EOS.
Other participants for the 2024 sandbox run by the Canadian government hail from Canada, the United States, the United Kingdom and Israel.
This includes Boeing’s high energy laser technology, Leonardo’s electro optical sensor and radio frequency-based technology, and the University of Toronto’s Prandtl Dynamics’ ultrasonic wave technology.
Canada’s efforts in CUAS is being led by the Canadian Joint Operations Command with the event supported by the Canadian Armed Forces alongside the US government’s Irregular Warfare Technical Support Directorate and Royal Canadian Mounted Police end-users.
The CUAS Sandbox is a part of the IDEaS program which supports defence and security innovation through five funding mechanisms: competitive projects, innovation networks, contests, sandboxes, and test drives.
Alongside the CUAS Sandbox, the Canadian government is also offering up to CA$2.5 million for businesses to mature their CUAS technology towards demonstration readiness through the CUAS Concept development program.
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