U.S. Marines to Embark On Australian-Made Boat

By Sean Carberry

The Whiskey Project Group photo

SYDNEY — In early 2024, U.S. Marines will get their first taste of the Whiskey Bravo, a twin-engine, tactical reconnaissance boat designed and built by a veteran-owned Australian defense company.

Under a $12.5 million Defense Innovation Unit contract, The Whiskey Project will deliver an upgraded version of its current 11.7-meter-long Bravo model boat for testing by the Marine Corps.

The boat was designed by Australian navy veterans who experienced and witnessed career-ending injuries on existing small craft, Darren Schuback, CEO of The Whiskey Project, said on the sidelines of the Indo Pacific 2023 International Maritime Exposition in Sydney.

“So, after leaving defense, we decided we’re going to build the boats that we wish we had,” he said. “We needed to start by addressing all of the safety and performance issues.”
The company focused on improving directional stability, reducing shock load and generally making the boat conform to the operator, he said.

“From there, we started to further develop and understand what we wanted out of the craft from a mission context — we needed to ensure that we had maximum versatility and modularity around the craft designs as well,” he continued.

The Bravo sports a ballistic-armored upper edge and an open deck that can accommodate surveillance and sensing equipment, small drones — and in the case of the boat on display at the conference — Rafael’s Spike precision-guided missile system. Depending on the configuration, the boat can accommodate 17 combat-loaded troops, Schuback said.

“The craft needed to be somewhat future proof so they could evolve with the operator over time,” he added. Thus, the design includes a data and power “spine” that can be run anywhere along the carbon fiber hull to support payloads like the Spike system.

The Marine Corps version is an upgraded version of the current Bravo, integrating “a lot of the one-percenters that we’ve learned from this craft into that new craft,” he noted. It will include a single-point, folding mast with sensors and surveillance hardware, a console that squats via an actuator system, a remotely activated bow door and additional storage areas.

Furthermore, the C-17-transportable and air-droppable Bravo is optionally crewed, he said. “We’ve worked with an Australian robotics company to integrate an autonomous system into this craft where we’ve done extensive trials and tests on that as well.” ND

Topics: Global Defense Market

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