AUVSI: US lines up giant UGV purchase for Afghanistan operations
The US Army and Marine Corps (USMC) are planning to procure some 4,000 UGVs for urgent operational requirements in Afghanistan, sources have revealed.
Speaking to Shephard, industry sources said a Joint Urgent Operational Needs Statement (JUONS) had been released following 'specific reports' regarding tactics, techniques and procedures involving UGVs in Afghanistan. The army's Joint Improvised Explosive Device Defeat Organization (JIEDDO) is believed to have already undertaken a series of tests on an undisclosed number of vehicles in the past few weeks.
Sources added that there was 'no public bidding' process for the contract although they conceded that they had been 'actively engaged' in the requirement. Although specific mission requirements are unknown, the army and USMC are believed to be looking for sub-10 lb UGVs although one source said that none of the UGVs evaluated had yet managed to satisfy all mission requirements.
It is understood that QinetiQ North America's Dragon Runner, ODF's Eye Drive, ReconRobotics' Scout XT, iRobot's 110 FirstLook and Macro USA's Armadillo are all in the running, although none of the companies would officially confirm this.
The army and USMC are looking for a commercial-off-the-shelf technology solution with some sources saying they expected a further evaluation process to take place in October and November. However, another source described army aspirations to begin the actual procurement of the UGVs
Used by dismounted troops in Afghanistan, small and micro-UGVs have proven popular for ISR missions as well as counter-IED taskings. They are also thrown over compound walls to provide a discreet reconnaissance capability before gaining entry. Neither the US Army nor the USMC was available to comment.
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