Defense and security group AeroVironment has landed another military agency contract with an $8 million US Army deal to supply and test a JUMP 20 medium-range UAV for the first increment of the Future Tactical Uncrewed Aircraft System (FTUAS) program.
The not inconsequential income involved notwithstanding, the new US Army contract is even more significant as a potential opportunity in AeroVironment’s ambitions to become a regular and big provisioner to future tactical drone fleets. It calls for the Arlington, VA-based company to undertake testing of a single JUMP 20 UAV on a sped-up schedule, which if convincing could win the craft status as the FTUAS aerial system of choice.
AeroVironment’s JUMP 20 vertical takeoff and landing medium-range UAV is vying to provide aerial intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance services to the US Army’s FTUAS program with a drone the company says offers increased maneuverability and improved command and control over existing tech. Selected Brigade Combat Teams currently rely on Q-7B Shadow drones made by AAI Corporation, which also supplies various US allied armies.
Gaining a foothold providing JUMP 20 UAVs and associated services, training, and support to the US Army FTUAS program would therefore also give AeroVironment a potential opening to those other allied armed forces also looking to modernize their strategic drone fleets.
“With Increment 1 of the FTUAS program, the Army will be testing and fielding the JUMP 20 on an accelerated schedule as they seek a replacement for the RQ-7B Shadow UAS currently fielded in Brigade Combat Teams,” said Gorik Hossepian, AeroVironment vice president. “The combat-proven JUMP 20 is a rapidly deployable, runway independent, vertical takeoff and landing solution for the Army. Its ability to be deployed, operated and sustained from anywhere is a game-changer in theater and in situations where the enemy has invaded or destroyed infrastructure.”
Convincing the US Army the JUMP 20 UAV represents the future of its FTUAS program would provide additional lift AeroVironment’s already ascending business activity.
Earlier this month, for example, the company announced the acquisition of autonomous drone navigation tech firm Planck Aerosystems, adding capabilities to its UAVs in negotiating difficult, even moving takeoff and landing platform scenarios.
In recent months it has also won $30 million in new business from various agencies of the US and allied militaries, including aerial assets covered by aid packages to Ukraine voted by the US Congress. AeroVironment has also landed work worth over $20 million providing the US Special Operations tactical missile systems, and now hopes to expand its presence in the US Army by making JUMP 20 UAVs an integral part of FTUAS fleet.
The fixed-wing eVTOL craft has a flight capacity of over 14 hours and range of 115 miles, with a 30-pound payload. The system can be set up and operational in less than 60 minutes and features a common autopilot and ground control system architecture providing a highly customizable, modular platform that can be custom-made.