US Special Operations Command is moving swiftly to acquire the services of multiple types of “mid-endurance”-class unmanned aircraft systems (UAS).
The command yesterday issued a classified draft request for proposals (RFP) that should lead to the award of multiple contracts in April, according to an acquisition notice.
Details of the special operations requirements are not released, but the draft RFP has attracted interest from vendors of small and tactical-level UAS.
For example, Boeing and Raytheon have confirmed plans to compete for one of the special operations contracts. Boeing’s ScanEagle and Integrator and the Raytheon/Swift Engineering KillerBee-4 are both candidates for the pending US Navy and US Marine Corps small tactical UAS/Tier II contract.
Special Operations does not plan to acquire any aircraft, but contract with a company to provide intelligence gathering, target surveillance and reconnaissance services using a mid-endurance class UAS.
The Boeing Scan Eagle, with newly-acquired partner Insitu, has pioneered providing US and foreign militaries with contractor-operated UAS services.
“We’ve reviewed the draft and are preparing our comments, but we're pleased with what we've seen so far and feel that we're well-positioned to provide the solution that best meets SOCOM's requirements,” a Boeing spokesman said.
Meanwhile, Raytheon is “excited about the response on which we are currently working,” a spokesman says. The mid-endurance UAS opportunity would leverage Raytheon’s background in air vehicles, avionics and weapons.
“The company also has a portfolio of vehicles and will respond with the most appropriate system to meet the SOCOM warfighter's needs,” Raytheon adds.Raytheon also has developed the Cobra UAS, which is mainly used as a testbed for sensors and payloads.