AUVSI Unmanned Systems — Defense. Protection. Security (USDPS) — held 20-21 August 2019 in Washington DC — is the most comprehensive event in the unmanned systems industry bringing together military leadership, defense experts and the supply chain serving those markets to dig into how unmanned and autonomous systems are changing the landscape of military and intelligence operations and what that means for procurement, technology development and inter-agency collaboration.
Following are program updates on Army Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) programs provided at USDPS by Lt. Col. David Griffin, Product Manager for Tactical Unmanned Aircraft System (TUAS) within PEO Aviation’s Program Manager, Unmanned Aircraft Systems (PM UAS):
Future Tactical Unmanned Aircraft System (FTUAS) – Griffin explained that, four companies — Arcturus UAV, L3 Technologies, Martin UAV/Northrop Grumman, and Textron/AAI — will now provide their FTUAS systems for Army Soldiers to operate and evaluate. These operational evaluations, performed under a $99,500,000 firm-fixed-price contract awarded on 25 July 2019, will form the basis for the Army to shape its formal FTUAS Program of Record requirement to replace at least part of the venerable RQ-7 SHADOW TUAS fleet. Said Griffin: “The intent is not to then down select to the best one, the intent is to use the information collected to create the requirement for the next thing and then go forward.”
RQ-7 SHADOW Tactical Unmanned Aircraft System — Griffin told attendees that although the Future Tactical Unmanned Aircraft System (FTUAS) program is taking shape, the RQ-7 SHADOW is far from done. “I would bet money that SHADOWs will still be in the Army ten years from now and it seems plausible that it would be in the Army fifteen years from now,” adding that significant SHADOW capability enhancements continue. The new, still-to-be-installed RQ-7 capability block he described includes an L-3 WESCAM MX-10 payload, a new more reliable, water-cooled engine, and various communications upgrades.
Short Range Reconnaissance (SRR) and Long Range Reconnaissance (LLR) Small UAS Programs — Griffin recalled that the Army selected six companies — Altavian, Lumenier, Parrot, Skydio, Teal Drones, and Vantage Robotics — in April 2019 to provide prototypes for the Short Range Reconnaissance (SRR) program. The SRR prototypes will be demonstrated in September at Ft. Benning, GA, and again in January. Griffin added that the Service is also seeking to replace AV’s RQ-20 Puma UAS with a more capable Long Range Reconnaissance (LRR) system. Industry responses to an Army Request for Information (RFI) on LRR were due on 19 July 2019. Griffin told DSJ that he did not expect an LRR Request for Proposals (RFP) until Fiscal Year 2021 (FY21).