AUVSI: US services decide on early buy of Integrator
Col Jim Rector, Program Manager PMA-263, Small Tactical Unmanned Aircraft Systems took the opportunity of Unmanned Systems North America to provide an update on what has happened with the Small Tactical Unmanned Aircraft Systems (STUAS) programme since the contract award last year.
To avoid confusion the PMA has adopted the use of the designation RQ-21A to differentiate the system from the commercial Integrator that Insitu already has available. 'What's important for RQ-21A is that it has to be expeditionary,' Rector stated. He added that it has to be integrated in to the ship systems, but also easily taken ashore with units.
Five months after contract award the programme office conducted an operational assessment of the existing Integrator system at Yuma Proving ground. Rector said the objective was to derisk the programme going forward and to look whether the system at its current level of maturity had some utility.
As a result of the assessment the US Marine Corps (USMC) and the US Navy decided to go forward with an early operational capability buy of two systems each consisting of four air vehicles a piece. The USMC plans to use its systems to augment training efforts.
Deliveries are currently under way and the USMC expects to use the systems next month to augment the Mojave Viper pre-deployment exercise at the 29 Palms training facility in California. However, Rector said there were currently no plans for the marine corps elements deploying to Afghanistan after Mojave Viper to take Integrator with them. Although he added that commanders might elect to take the system with them if they saw a gap in ISR requirements.
Returning to the programme of record Rector said that RQ-21A had passed its preliminary design review last month and that it was expected to move on to a critical design review in December.
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