The US defense department has down-selected five US companies that will be eligible to provide trusted, secure small Unmanned Aircraft Systems (sUAS) options to the US government.
The announcement is the culmination of an 18-month effort with Defense Innovation Unit’s (DIU) initial work supporting the US Army’s Short Range Reconnaissance (SRR) program of record for sUAS.
The SRR program is developing an inexpensive, rucksack-portable, vertical take-off and landing small unmanned aircraft that provides the small unit with a rapidly-deployed situational awareness tool.
Coined Blue sUAS, the DIU spinoff effort builds upon the Army’s initial success and offers sUAS that mirror the air vehicle and software architecture of SRR, but provides alternative ground controller and radio configurations to accommodate a variety of users across the federal government.
“Blue sUAS represents a tremendous first step toward building a robust and trusted UAS domestic industrial base that ensures sustained delivery of highly-capable, secure UAS to the warfighters that depend on it,” said Michael Kratsios, acting under secretary of defense for research and engineering.
The five companies whose products will be made available for purchase by September 2020 include Altavian, Parrot, Skydio, Teal, and Vantage Robotics.
Ellen Lord, Under Secretary of Defense for Acquisition and Sustainment, added: “Blue sUAS is a great example of DOD acquisition reform by lowering the barrier to entry for non-traditional companies to rapidly iterate shoulder to shoulder with warfighters to deliver highly-capable sUAS tailored to mission needs.”
DIU seeks to build upon the success of the Blue sUAS effort by leveraging best in class commercial innovation on a regular cadence that ensures sustained technological dominance against our nation’s adversaries.
“We need an alternative to Chinese-made small drones and Blue sUAS is a first step in achieving that objective.” said Mike Brown, director of the Defense Innovation Unit. “Working across DOD and the US government aggregates the business opportunity for these five vendors and enhances the long-term viability of this capability for the US and our allies.”