Home Americas US Army picks AeroVironment’s Jump 20 as RQ-7B Shadow successor

US Army picks AeroVironment’s Jump 20 as RQ-7B Shadow successor

Jump 20 for US Army FTUAS
conducts an engine start on the JUMP 20 prior to a launch during the FTUAS capabilities assessment at Fort Riley, Kansas, April 8, 2020. Photo: US Army

Unmanned systems developer AeroVironment revealed it received an Other Transaction Agreement award by the US Army on August 18 for Increment 1 of the Future Tactical Unmanned Aircraft System (FTUAS) program.

The contract encompasses the purchase, testing and delivery of one Jump 20 medium unmanned aircraft system (MUAS) to a selected Army Brigade Combat Team (BCT) and associated services, training and support.

The system consists of six air vehicles, ground data terminals and ground control stations. The award is worth $8 million and is the result of a competitive evaluation, the US Army said.

Based upon the results of testing, Army leadership may decide to procure and field up to seven additional INC 1 systems.

“With Increment 1 of the FTUAS program, the Army will be testing and fielding the Jump 20 on an accelerated schedule as they seek a replacement for the RQ-7B Shadow UAS currently fielded in Brigade Combat Teams,” said Gorik Hossepian, AeroVironment vice president and product line general manager for MUAS.

“The combat-proven Jump 20 is a rapidly deployable, runway independent, vertical takeoff and landing solution for the Army. Its ability to be deployed, operated and sustained from anywhere is a game-changer in theater and in situations where the enemy has invaded or destroyed infrastructure.”

AeroVironment says the Jump 20 is the first fixed-wing unmanned aircraft system capable of vertical takeoff and landing (VTOL) to be deployed extensively in support of US military forces. The system delivers over 14 hours of endurance, a standard operational range of 115 miles (185 kilometers) and is runway independent. It has a useable payload capacity of up to 30 pounds (13.6 kilograms).

A FTUAS INC 2 acquisition is continuing independently but in parallel with the INC 1 award and testing, the Army noted. The Aviation and Missile Technology Consortium (AMTC) released the FTUAS INC 2 request for white papers on 1 October 2021.

The Army requires replacement of the workhorse RQ-7B Shadow with a vertical takeoff and landing, runway-independent, reduced acoustic signature aircraft that can be transported organically while providing commanders with “on the move” reconnaissance, surveillance, and target acquisition capabilities. As stated by the Army, FTUAS is expected to allow rapid emplacement in less than 45 minutes, have a reduced size and footprint compared to the Shadow and have comparable performance. It will be transportable by a single CH-47, provide over six hours of operating endurance, and operate out to 100 kilometers.