Aquabotix embraced by US military with co-location deal
In a sure sign that ASX-listed Aquabotix’s new military focussed management team now has its feet firmly under the desk, the underwater drone company has inked a sublime deal to co-locate its American operations on-site with the US military in Virginia.
Newly minted Aquabotix CEO Whitney Million and recently appointed CTO Alexander Blyskun, both have strong defence industry backgrounds which has no doubt led to the US military embracing the small cap ASX listed company via the co-location deal.
In a market update today, Aquabotix said it struck the deal to co-locate with the US army at Virginia’s Radford Army Ammunition Plant through the Joint Munitions Command’s Armament Retooling and Manufacturing Support Program.
The agreement will give Aquabotix access to military facilities, technologies, materials and armaments and will assist it to develop products that can be sold to the US Army.
Currently Aquabotix’s lead military product is the “SwarmDiver” which is essentially a swarm of multiple underwater miniature submarines equipped with cameras that can be operated as one giant synchronized unit by a single surface operator.
Aquabotix says its SwarmDiver technology is unique because it is the only product of its kind that can also operate on the surface.
Aquabotix CEO Whitney Million said: “The co-location will allow Aquabotix access to technologies, materials, and armaments that support its goal of advancing the development of certain SwarmDiver and other unmanned vehicle capabilities.”
Prior to joining Aquabotix, Ms Million worked for a subsidiary of London listed BAE Systems plc, a defence and security company with a market capitalisation of approximately £19 billion.
New CTO, Mr. Blyskun was a Senior Systems Engineer with Northrop Grumman Corporation, a US$60b NYSE-listed defence contractor. At Northrop Grumman, Mr. Blyskun launched and led a major U.S. Department of Defence electronic warfare systems program as the technical lead and chief system architect.
According to Aquabotix, the new facilities in Virginia will also help the company to secure military contracts with strict regulatory restrictions, such as those involving its unmanned drone systems used in conjunction with explosives.
The co-location will also enable Aquabotix to expand its product offerings and to pursue contracts previously off-limits to the company, management added in the recent market update.
The ASX junior’s embedding at the military site, alongside industry heavyweights such as BAE Systems, Orbital ATK and General Dynamics, also potentially qualifies it for funding from the US Army for facility modifications, equipment upgrades and improvement projects.
Marketing and strategic planning support will also become available through the US military, the company said.
The latest update comes as Aquabotix shifts from being a tightly-held private business to a publicly-listed leader in the rapidly-emerging underwater drone business.
This transition has already seen it sell more than 800 drone units in over 45 countries and secure 10 new distributors to its global network.
When the US military opens its cheque book, the orders are rarely small, which augers well for Aquabotix who has uniquely positioned itself in the bosom of one of the world’s largest and biggest spending military outfits.