HUNTSVILLE, Ala. — The U.S. Army has selected Martin UAV and AAI Corporation, a unit of Textron, to provide unmanned aircraft systems for platoons to try out as candidates to replace the Shadow tactical UAS.
The indefinite delivery, indefinite quantity contracts are each worth up to $99.5 million over a three-year period.
The plan is to deliver several systems to six platoons — assigned through Army Forces Command — that will evaluate systems during combat training center rotations. The designated platoons are expected to be announced soon.
The unmanned aircraft were selected after the rigorous fly-off during December 2018 and January 2019 at Dugway Proving Ground, Utah, explained Brig. Gen. Wally Rugen, who is in charge of the Army’s future vertical lift modernization effort. The officer was speaking to reporters at the Association of the U.S. Army’s Global Force Symposium on March 28.
The Army was looking for systems that improved upon the Shadow UAS’ performance, particularly better acoustics (Shadow sounds like a flying lawn mower) and runway independence (Shadow relies on a runway to take off and an arresting device to land), according to
“The offers were graded on the ability to not only improve upon the Shadow, but to do the Shadow’s missions as well,” Rugen said.
The platoon-level evaluations of the winning systems over the course of fiscal 2020 will help the Army decide how it would like to proceed in not only replacing Shadow but in acquiring a future Tactical UAS system that will play an integral role in the future fleet alongside manned and optionally manned helicopters in advanced teaming.
Replacing the Shadow is seen as a quick win for the Army’s effort to modernize its force. Shadow has been the UAS with the most problems for the service, according to a review of mishaps over the course of several years.
Dr. Hans C. Mumm