Air Force seeks industry information on small air-launched drones

By Shelley K. Mesch / July 18, 2022 at 12:48 PM

The Air Force Research Laboratory requested information from businesses for small unmanned aerial systems to be used for intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance and supplement kinetic strike, according to an online posting Monday.

AFRL is interested in sUAS that could be launched from existing air assets, including other UAS and airplanes, the request states. The goal is for the sUAS to be able to survey areas larger than traditional ISR techniques can manage, the notice states.

“Air launching allows the range and endurance of sUAS to be utilized for mission execution rather than travel to the desired mission area, thus increasing the useful life of a single sUAS in the span of a mission,” the request states.

The sUAS, which could be controlled or autonomous, would conduct ISR missions and communicate back to a ground station or other air asset, according to the request. The sUAS would either fly back to ground forces or be terminated. Since they would be considered expendable, the sUAS should be low-cost systems.

The sUAS should weigh less than 1 pound at takeoff with its length, width and depth no more than 1 foot. It should also have modular payloads.

AFRL is accepting responses until Sept. 30.