Northrop Grumman, AeroVironment, Textron, Sierra Nevada and Griffon vie for contract to develop future FTUAS drone for US Army

By: Maksim Panasovskyi | 02.03.2023, 17:15
Northrop Grumman, AeroVironment, Textron, Sierra Nevada and Griffon vie for contract to develop future FTUAS drone for US Army

The US Army has selected five companies to compete for the right to build an unmanned aerial vehicle. The first phase will last for three years.

Here's What We Know

The project, called Future Tactical Unmanned Aircraft System (FTUAS), involves AeroVironment, Griffon Aerospace, Northrop Grumman, Sierra Nevada Corp. and Textron Systems. They will be allocated between $1 million and $25 million during the development phase, which will last for three years. The amount depends on how far the manufacturer goes in developing the prototype.

The future drone will replace Textron Systems' AAI RQ-7 Shadow drone (pictured above). In 2018, the US Army began considering claims for a replacement drone, as the Shadow is accident-prone and quickly detected due to its noisy engine.

A year later, the bidders narrowed down to four companies: Northrop Grumman, Textron Systems, L3Harris Technologies and Arcturus UAV. In 2021, Arcturus AUV was taken over by AeroVironment.

The military evaluated four projects during the year. In 2022, the Army awarded a contract to AeroVironment. It was awarded $8m to supply Jump 20 drones (pictured below) as a temporary replacement for Shadow. One package consists of six aircraft, a control station and additional equipment.

The service had expanded the range of bidders the year before. Northrop Grumman, Textron Systems and AeroVironment were joined by Griffon and Sierra Nevada. In the final phase, each company must provide four drones and two remote controls for qualification and operational testing.

The US Army has made several requirements for FTUAS. The unmanned aerial system must take off and land vertically, have improved manoeuvrability, take up little space to simplify logistics and be silent. The FTUAS will be fielded in the second quarter of fiscal 2026.

Source: US Army

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