AUVSI: AAI goes public with STUAS competition rumors

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The AAI Corp Aerosonde Mk 4.7 completed a two-day flying demonstration required to win a major contract without a mishap, apparently alone among its competitors, says AAI vice president Steve Flach.

Within one month after filing their proposals, all four bidders for the US Navy and Marine Corps' small tactical UAS/Tier 2 competition completed a flying demonstration at Yuma, Arizona, in late June and early July.

The results of that flying demonstration, which is not scored as part of the government's evaluation process for contract award, have not been disclosed.

But AAI claims its aircraft completed a two-day flight schedule without a crash.

"We probably did the best at the demo from all of our competition," Flach told reporters at a press conference unveiling the Mk 4.7. "We achieved everything we proposed we would do."

When asked if that implied its competitors did not succeed in that regard, Flach replied: "That's the rumor mill."

Flach also adds that AAI has received no official communication from the Navy about the results of the flying demonstration due to the competitive nature of the program.

AAI is competing for the roughly $450 million STUAS/Tier 2 contract against at least three competitors. Its known rivals include the Boeing/Insitu Integrator, Raytheon/Swift Engineering KillerBee-4 and UAS Dynamics Storm.

The USN has explained the flying demonstration is intended to "complement" the technical data submitted in the proposals, but the results will not count for or against the bidders in the evaluation.

Flach was also asked if the USN might require a second round of flying demonstrations based on the results of the first round. He replied that he understands the Navy hopes to award a contract by end-September, and "we're anxious for them to keep to that schedule". However, he adds: "We are in wait and see mode."