The Army is asking industry to help it accelerate delivery of its Future Tactical Unmanned Aircraft System, the planned replacement for the currently fielded Textron RQ-7B Shadow drone, according to an Army official.
Soldiers from five brigade combat teams in 2019 were chosen to assess drones from four different vendors through soldier touchpoints, culminating in a rainy day "rodeo" at Ft. Benning, GA, in March of this year.
The drones that were assessed include the Martin V-BAT, Textron AAI Aerosonde HQ, Arcturus Jump 20 and L3 Harris’ FVR-90.
The service recently issued a request for information to industry “to see potentially if we can accelerate that program somewhat,” Col. Scott Anderson, project manager for unmanned aircraft systems, told reporters April 30, with 25 industry partners responding.
Army budget documents show a full-rate production decision for FTUAS scheduled in fiscal year 2024.
The service is “very excited about industry’s response to that RFI and [we’re] looking forward to seeing what the Army decides to do if they want to accelerate the program,” Anderson said. “We stand ready to do that.”
He added the service will have to move some funding if the FTUAS schedule is ultimately accelerated.
A formal requirements document for FTUAS is also expected to be approved in July, he said.