The U.S. Army has issued contracts to five companies to develop a new unmanned aircraft system (UAS.) The five companies selected are, Aerovironment, Griffon Aerospace, Northrop Grumman, Sierra Nevada Corp. and Textron Systems. Each contract is worth between $1 million and $25 million. The new system will replace the Textron Systems made AAI RQ-7 Shadow drone, which first flew in 1991.
An Army spokesman spoke about the new development program and said, “These systems will undergo numerous evaluation activities such as environmental testing, electromagnetic environmental effects testing, MOSA verification, and flight qualification testing.” The spokesman went onto say, the drones should “improve the brigade combat team’s ability to conduct reconnaissance and surveillance operations that collect, develop, and report actionable intelligence information about the enemy in degraded Global Positioning System environments.” The army wants the new system to have vertical takeoff and landing ability as well as increased maneuverability and the ability to control the aircraft mid flight. The Army would also like for the system to be quieter and better at avoiding detection than the Shadow.
The army plans to have the new drone in production by FY26.