US Special Command looks to buy maritime unmanned air systems

This story is sourced from Flight International
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US Special Operations Command (SOCOM) has unveiled a proposal to buy up to four different types of maritime-based unmanned air systems (UAS), numbering perhaps 408 aircraft in total.

SOCOM's acquisition strategy rules out development projects, with a plan to acquire the entire fleet within the next three years and with deliveries to begin within six months of contract award.

The fleet would be broken up into four types, comprising up to 120 tactical 1-micro (T1-M) aircraft, 240 tactical 1-small (T1-S) aircraft, 24 tactical 2 (T-2) aircraft and 24 tactical 3 (T-3) aircraft.

The T-3 is defined as carrying a 20-70kg (50-150lb) payload from 6-12h. T-2 is needed to carry a 2-9kg payload from 3-6h. T-1S would lift a 230g (8oz) to 1.5kg payload and the T-1M is defined as carrying 55-115g.

All four types would be required to survive a water landing, and remain floating on the surface for minutes to hours until recovery, SOCOM says.

The acquisition plan is contingent on funding levels and the availability of mature technology.