The US Army plans to host a fly-off demonstration using off-the-shelf drones to define the capabilities of the Future Tactical Unmanned Aerial System (FTUAS), a replacement for the Textron RQ-7 Shadow.

The Army anticipates awarding multiple indefinite-delivery-indefinite-quantity contracts with an estimated ceiling value of $78 million following a fly-off demonstration, it said in a draft request for proposal posted online 2 July. The service will host an industry day to discuss the demonstration on 17-19 July.

The FTUAS programme office plans to select up to six off-the-shelf drones for the demonstrations. Manufacturers will be responsible for logistics support covering training, maintenance, sustainment and operation of the drones at two Army units inside the United States for a minimum period of six months with additional options to increase the total term to two years if required.

The US Army is looking for a Group 2 or Group 3 UAS, drones of medium size and range, which are used for intelligence, surveillance, reconnaissance, and target designation, as well as ground attack missions.

The tactical drone must have a minimum range of 100km, be runway independent and able to transmit data to a Boeing AH-64 Apache, among other requirements.

The Army is also interested in how the drones might pair with its next generation of rotorcraft and plans to conduct demonstrations for its Future Vertical Lift Cross Functional Team.

Medium-sized drones that might fit what the Army is looking for include Textron's next-generation Shadow M2, which has additional range and payload capacity compared to its predecessor, Lockheed Martin's Fury, Northrop Grumman's Bat or Boeing/Insitu's Integrator.