Army releases RFI on radar payload capabilities for MQ-1C

By Dan Schere / June 15, 2023 at 12:36 PM

The Army is soliciting feedback from industry on providing synthetic aperture radar/moving target indicator payload capabilities for the MQ-1C Gray Eagle unmanned aircraft system with an eye toward a possible “fly-off” this year or next.

A request for information posted Thursday notes that the MQ-1C uses multiple sensor payloads, including the electro-optic/infrared and others. The notice states the Army is in the process of updating the requirements for MQ-1C payloads and wishes to take stock of industry’s ability to provide “synthetic aperture radar/ground moving target indicator/dismount moving target indicator payloads suitable for integration onto the MQ-1C.”

The notice asks industry for responses by July 14, and the Army plans to use the responses for a “potential sensor fly-off event” to “validate industry defined capabilities, sensor maturity and integration risk.”

The notice asks for solutions with technology readiness and manufacturing readiness levels of 7, meaning that prototypes can be demonstrated in a relevant environment and companies can produce the systems in a “production representative environment.”

The Army did not request funding for the procurement of additional Gray Eagles in its fiscal year 2024 budget, citing the fact that the service had reached its acquisition objective of 204 aircraft in 2019. However, in recent years Congress has added funding for the program in the National Defense Authorization Act to procure additional aircraft for the Army National Guard.

One provision in the House Armed Services tactical air and land forces subcommittee’s draft mark-up of the FY-24 defense authorization bill asks the Army secretary to submit a report by Feb. 1, 2024 on the service’s plans for integrating the MQ-1C into the Guard.

The draft legislation states the report would include the status of existing requirements for integrating the aircraft into the Guard, “including the potential roles, missions and necessary support infrastructure for such integration.” It would also include cost and timeline estimates for the current and future integration process.