The latest version of the Aerosonde family becomes the fourth known candidate for the contract, for which between six and eight bids have been predicted by a USN official.
Unveiled in Australia in March, the Aerosonde Mk 4.7 reuses the engine and avionics from the company's Mk 4.4 design, but integrates a larger wing and fuselage.
AAI at that time advertised the new version as having an endurance greater than 12h, but has since revised this to over 10h. The system is designed to incorporate new payloads "with little to no aircraft or system modifications", AAI adds.
The Aerosonde Mk 4.7 participated in mandatory flight demonstrations for the STUAS/Tier II source selection process from 23-24 June at the Yuma Proving Ground, Arizona.
The Boeing/Insitu ScanEagle has been filling the role of a STUAS/Tier II-class UAS since 2004 under a lease agreement. The US Air Force has also pledged to join the new programme in the future.
The services are initially seeking a long-endurance surveillance and communications relay system for low-altitude missions, but their requirements could expand to include strike applications using miniature munitions.
Source: Flight International