Drone manufacturer and automated flight specialist Skydio says it has won a contract to supply its X2D UAVs to the US Army’s Short-Range Reconnaissance Program (SRR). Valued at $20.2 million annually, the fixed-price provisionment agreement is expected to be worth $99.8 million over its five-year duration.
Beyond its obvious business benefits, the agreement with the US Army adds additional luster to the reputation of Skydio’s drones in at least a couple other ways. It marks a considerable vote of confidence in the company’s tech – particularly the facility and reliability of use, and automated flight capacities – from the Program Executive Office for Aviation’s Unmanned Aircraft Systems Project Management Office that manages the SRR.
The fact that the final decision looked closely at feedback from soldiers themselves on overall product performance and quality, meanwhile, is an indicator that the company’s UAVs impressed people from the boots on the ground all the way up to the top brass. The pitch for the contract involved 30 small-scale drone manufacturers, from which Skydio’s craft was judged the most ready to fulfill the US Army’s SRR operational requirements from day one.
“The future for our soldiers is now,” said Col. Joseph Anderson, project manager for unmanned aircraft systems. “The selection of the U.S. Army’s short range reconnaissance provider for tranche one is a significant milestone for the Army, our strategic partners, and the domestic industrial base… The relationships we have formed with industry demonstrate our commitment to compete and our ability to lead and innovate advanced technology in unmanned systems.”
Under the agreement, the Redwood City-based company will supply the US Army its Skydio X2D drone, which it calls the “ultimate solution for military and defense customers.” The craft combines the company’s hallmark autonomous performance with AI-driven flight software to enhance reconnaissance, search, rescue, and security patrol capabilities. Constructed with robust composites to withstand exacting operational environments, the X2D is outfitted with dual color optical thermal sensors, and GPS-based night flight and strobe lighting enabling day and night use of up to 35 minutes on a single charge.
The US design, components, and assembly of Skydio drones, meanwhile, were doubtless a major factor in the US Army’s bidding process, particularly at a time when souring bilateral relations is sidelining competitors from China. Also at work was the company’s smaller drone focus to fill a gap that large-sized military drone contractors have tended to neglect, and its production capacities capable of ramping output up to meet the additional demand.
“This is an exciting milestone for Skydio, the Army, and most importantly the men and women who serve our country,” said Skydio CEO, Adam Bry. “For drones under 20 pounds, civilian drone technology has raced ahead of traditional defense systems. With the SRR program, our soldiers will now have access to the most advanced capabilities in the world in this class. Skydio drones deliver unparalleled situational awareness and ease of use in the most demanding situations thanks to Skydio Autonomy.”