Competition for extended-range multipurpose unmanned air vehicle launched, with service entry due in 2009

The US Army has launched a long-delayed competition for an unmanned air vehicle to replace its Israel Aircraft Industries-Northrop Grumman RQ-5A Hunter by 2009. A two-month system capability demonstration for the Extended Range Multi-Purpose (ERMP) vehicle will begin next January, allowing rival teams to demonstrate prototype aircraft performance before a planned contract award next year.

A request for proposals released on 1 September suggests the army is seeking increases in range and weapons-carrying requirements. The army has listed a baseline requirement for a vehicle that can remain on station for 12h out to 300km (160nm); a 50% increase over its previous distance requirement.

The future ERMP also must support a 180kg (400lb) weapon payload as a minimum, but the army is open to performance trades that allow carriage of 225kg and 450kg weapons on each wing. The ERMP contractor will be responsible for integrating the AGM-114 Hellfire, Stinger, Viper Strike, Joint Common Missile and Advanced Precision Kill Weapons System.

Payload requirements for the ERMP are listed as two mission systems - either synthetic aperture radar, electro-optical/infrared or ground moving target indicator, with a combined weight of 90kg, but an objective goal exists for three mission systems at 135kg.

The army plans to buy about 60 ERMP aircraft: five systems of 12 vehicles each. The first is to enter service in September 2009.


Source: Flight International