REDSTONE ARSENAL, Alabama – (April 29, 2019)
The U.S. Army Program Executive Officer for Aviation’s Project Manager, Unmanned Aircraft Systems, partnered with the Defense Innovation Unit and the Army’s Maneuver Center of Excellence to identify and prototype new drone capabilities with commercial companies that specialize in on-demand, “eye in the sky” technologies.
The Short Range Reconnaissance program is intended to deliver an inexpensive, rucksack portable, vertical take-off and landing drone that provides the Soldier on the ground with a rapidly deployable scouting capability to gain situational awareness beyond the next terrain feature.
Soldiers on today’s battlefield face an enemy that is able to purchase low-cost consumer drones, which provide capabilities previously limited to more expensive and uniquely military technologies. Advanced, commercially-developed small unmanned aircraft systems can dramatically reduce the time and cost of getting a flying vehicle in use. To provide these capabilities, the Army is using agile design to execute iterative development based on Soldier testing and immediate feedback to the commercial companies.
“Engaging with industry in a more collaborative environment allows the Army to design, develop and deliver the latest technologies to benefit the Soldier today as well as better inform how to address identified capability gaps tomorrow,” said Carson Wakefield, Assistant Product Manager for PEO Aviation’s Small UAS.
The SRR effort directly supports Army PEO Aviation as a project developing small, unmanned aircraft (quadcopters) that focus on open source tools. With the Army’s focus on quick prototyping and operator feedback, six Other Transaction Agreements have recently been awarded to companies that focus on object detection in both daytime and nighttime environments. Over the next several months, the companies will have the opportunity to further develop their solutions for the next-generation SUAS. The goal is to move with speed through the prototyping phase, with companies meeting key milestones, and then transition the best technology to production to be fielded within months, not years.
The PEO Aviation and DIU team are executing these initiatives by using prototyping and agile acquisition processes to more quickly field this critical capability into the hands of the men and women in uniform. For the majority of the commercial companies selected to participate in the SRR program, it will be their first time working with the Department of Defense.
According to Carson Wakefield, Assistant Product Manager for PEO Aviation’s Small UAS, the following six vendors were awarded a combined total contract value of approximately $11 million: