Navy to buy more unmanned aviation systems

The Navy plans to hold a competition to fill the requirement for a small, tactical unmanned aerial system in the coming months.

Already proven to be valuable in Iraq and Afghanistan, small unmanned aerial vehicles are used by the Navy and Marines for surveillance and reconnaissance in battlefield situations.

These small vehicles are expected to provide persistent intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance support for tactical level decisions and unit level defense, and protection for Navy ships and Marine Corps ground forces.

The draft request for proposal is expected to be released this fall. Companies interested in pursuing these opportunities should keep in mind that the Navy refers to this capability as the Small Tactical UAS, or STUAS, while the Marine Corps refers to it as Tier II UAS.

Small unmanned aerial vehicles for battle theaters are provided to the Navy and the Marine Corps via sole-sourced service contracts through their respective acquisition commands. Under such contracts, the vehicles are owned and operated by the contractor, not the government.

This year each service will continue with service contracts, but on a competitive basis. This effort will continue until the larger, joint effort reaches initial operational capability in fiscal 2010.

Additionally, the Marine Corps Warfighting Lab in Quantico, Va., has begun a Tier II small UAV concept demonstration effort. This system will serve as a test bed for developing concepts of operation; techniques, training and procedures; new technologies; and advanced payloads. The information gathered from the Marine Corps concept demonstrator will be used in the development of the combined STUAS/Tier II program.

The UAS program office, PMA-263, reports to the Program Executive Office, Strike Weapons and Unmanned Aviation, and is located at the Naval Air Station, Patuxent River, Md.

About the Author

Doug Beizer is a staff writer for Washington Technology.

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