AeroVironment to expand Blackwing UAS programme
AeroVironment has received a contract from the US Navy for continuation and expansion of its Blackwing small UAV programme, the company announced on 9 October.
The contract worth $2.5m includes orders for multiple Blackwing vehicles, sensor payloads and refurbishment kits. The initial set of vehicles are expected to be delivered by May 2018, while the final deliveries are to be made by November 2018.
Blackwing is a small, tube-launched unmanned aircraft that employs an advanced, miniature electro-optical and infrared (EO/IR) payload, integrated inertial/GPS autopilot system and secure digital data link, all packaged into a vehicle that launches from under the surface of the sea, from manned submarines and UUVs.
Blackwing builds on the company’s UAS and its Switchblade Lethal Miniature Aerial Missile System (LMAMS) to provide the navy with a submarine-launched UAS optimised for denied environments.
AeroVironment developed the Blackwing system as part of a 2013 US Navy and US Pacific Command (PACOM) sponsored Joint Capabilities Technology Demonstration (JCTD) called advanced weapons enhanced by submarine UAS against mobile targets.
This JCTD was completed in September 2015 with recommendation to transition the capability into the fleet.
Kirk Flittie, VP and general manager of UAS division, AeroVironment, said: ‘Since first being deployed just a few months ago, Blackwing has delivered valuable new capabilities to US Naval Undersea Warfare units.
‘This contract is consistent with the navy’s plans to resupply existing vessels and equip additional submarines with the Blackwing capability.’
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