AAI/Textron(with Orbital) apprear to be Sole-Source for $600mm Contract!
Aerosonde Again? AAI’s MEUAS-II Special Forces UAV Win Mar 06, 2012 16:50 EST Related Stories: Americas - USA, Boeing, Contracts - Awards, Forces - Special Ops, Support Functions - Other, Textron, UAVs Advertisement Aerosonde 4.7 from M80 Stiletto (click to view full) It has been a great week for Textron subsidiary AAI. At the end of February, they made a big breakthrough in the US military market, as their Aerosonde-G UAV became 1 of 3 platforms eligible to compete for up to $847 million in US Navy and its allied rent-a-drone contracts. Less than a week later, the firm is walking away with a $600 million sole win of US Special Operations Command’s MEUAS-II UAV services contract, displacing MEUAS incumbent Boeing and its ScanEagle.
The Aerosonde UAV is AAI’s most likely offering for MEUAS-II, but that can’t be confirmed yet…
RQ-7, Iraq (click to view larger) The only other candidate is AAI’s Shadow UAV, a runway-using drone in wide service with the US Army, USMC, and foreign customers. It can also be launched via catapult, but lacks the “go anywhere” deployability needed by special forces. The previous MEUAS incumbent, Boeing’s ScanEagle, can be launched from naval platforms as small as Mk.V SEAL boats, from HMMWV jeeps, or from land-based sites, and is recovered using a portable Skyhook system. AAI’s Australian Aerosonde Pty Ltd. subsidiary makes their other UAS offering, and the Aerosonde’s catapult and net system means it can be launched and recovered from the same sorts of platforms as ScanEagle. Asked about this issue, AAI representatives could say only that:
“Before we can make any formal announcements about this award, we need customer approval. I will get in touch with you as soon as I can share more.” If SOCOM has in fact chosen an Aerosonde model, the implicit endorsement of their award is another huge advance in the platform’s military competitiveness. Before 2012, Aerosonde had little presence in the global military market, and even their home country Australia had chosen AAI’s RQ-7B Shadow as its mid-tier UAV. With its technology validated by 2 huge American contracts, AAI’s Aerosonde UAVs can be expected to be a much more visible and competitive product in global tenders.