The US Navy's possible one-billion-dollar program

US Navy looks for new small ship-borne UAV for possible $1bn programme – link

Source: Flight Global

Article Headlines

  • The US Navy (USN) is planning a flight demonstration and possible prototyping competition to help find a new ship-borne UAV
  • The effort is being run by Innovation and Modernization Patuxent River, a partnership between the Naval Air Warfare Center Air Division AirWorks prototyping group and Georgia Tech Research Institute
  • The Naval Air Warfare Center Air Division plans to sponsor a technology demonstration for select UAVs between 30 November and 18 December 2020 at Yuma Proving Ground in Arizona
  • After that the USN may award prototyping contracts to more than one manufacturer to improve their drones
  • To pay for prototypes, the service plans to use its Other Transaction Authority, a government process that has fewer regulations compared to traditional acquisition programs
  • “Any awarded [Other Transaction Authority] have the potential to become a part of a future program of record estimated to be worth up to $1 billion,” says the USN
  • In particular, the service wants a UAV that could be flown from austere environments without dedicated launch and recovery equipment
  • It wants a drone that could be launched and recovered with an 11.3kg (25lb) payload; have 300W of electrical power available for payloads; a more than 12h flight endurance; a 70nm (129km) line-of-sight range for command and control; and be able to launch and recover within a 7m (23ft) diameter circle area

Overview & Comments

  • With the Air-Force potentially looking for the MQ-9’s replacement and the Army currently conducting its FTUAS Shadow replacement program, the program at hand has the potential to be the Navy’s equivalent large scale UAS program
  • Specifically, the maritime domain is an important market with UAS requirements worldwide such as Australia’s Sea 129
  • In current and future maritime operations UAVs are an inseparable component of the host vessel and overall operational effort
  • The various UAS configurations all have their distinctive characteristics that best fit the required mission parameters and the vessels constraints, whether flight performance and/or logistic trail
  • Contact ABG-SC to learn more about the maritime UAS market
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