The Army is asking the industry if it can accelerate delivery of a new scout drone, FTUAS, to replace the ageing RQ-7 shadow after a successful year of field tests of four competing prototypes, culminating in a rainy-day “rodeo” at Fort Benning.
It was “a great infantryman day, a cold, rainy day where we couldn’t have launched the Shadow in that weather,” Col. Scott Anderson, project manager for drones, said. “All those systems launched and flew really spectacularly in that kind of weather and got great feedback from the soldiers.
“I think it’s unanimous from all the soldiers involved that we got this one right,” Anderson told reporters Friday. “Now we’ve got to do a little bit more of the hard work and deliver that capability.”
A formal requirements document for FTUAS, the Future Tactical Unmanned Aerial System, should receive Army approval in July, Anderson said.
The Army would have to move some funding to get FTUAS sooner, Anderson acknowledged, but “if they want to accelerate the program … we stand ready to do that.”
The service is also moving out rapidly on the two manned platforms that, together with FTUAS and air-launched mini-drones called ALE, make up its Future Vertical Lift “ecosystem” of high-tech aircraft:
Finally, the Army is working on common technical standards to apply to all these aircraft, manned and unmanned, and even in some cases to ground vehicles. The aviation version is known as the Modular Open Systems Architecture (MOSA), which is still being finalized; the overarching version covering both ground and air, which is still more nascent, is the Common Modular Open Architecture (CMOA).
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