Boeing/Insitu confirms the Integrator won the small tactical unmanned aircraft system (STUAS)/Tier II contract three weeks ago, despite crashing during a key flight demonstration in front of US Navy and Marine Corps evaluators.
In the competitive demonstrations last year, the first of two Integrator vehicles crashed on takeoff from the system's catapult launcher in front of US Navy and Marine Corps observers, says Bill Clark, Insitu vice president of emerging programs.
An investigation revealed the air data system became disconnected from the flight control computer on takeoff, Clark says.
Insitu then launched the second Integrator vehicle, which completed the required flight demonstration without incident, he adds.
Clark also strongly believes that a lack of flight testing prior to the demonstration increased the risk of a crash heading into the event staged at Yuma, Arizona.
In the weeks before the demonstration, Insitu had to divert its focus from flight tests to completing a transition to a software program for Integrator that was certified to the CMMI Level 3 standard, he says.
"We did not have enough hours in our system," he says.
The Navy decided to award the contract to Boeing/Insity despite the mishap during the demonstration phase. This was despite the Navy's goal to make technical risk the key factor in the evaluation, followed by past experience of the bidders and cost.
At least two of the other three competitors perhaps fared no better.
At the AUVSI convention last year, an AAI/Aerosonde executive had said he understood that his team's vehicle - the Aerosonde Mk 4.7 - was the only aircraft that did not experience a mishap during the flight demonstrations.
The two other bidders for STUAS/Tier II were the Raytheon/Swift Engineering KillerBee-4 and UAS Dynamics Storm.