The US Army has awarded a contract worth up to $248 million to five companies for small unmanned air vehicles (UAV). The contract is essentially an extension of a similar 2005 contract for Group One UAVs, which are small, generally highly portable and hand-launched.

AeroVironment, Elbit, Altavian, Innovative Automation Technologies (IAT) and Lockheed Martin have been selected to fulfill the contract, which means they are eligible to bid against each other to fulfill individual requirements.

Though the contract is issued by the US Army, previous contracts saw requirements issued by Special Operations Command and the Marine Corps for their own aircraft, a system likely to continue. Thus far no requirements have been issued against the contract, and none are expected for several months yet.

Each contractor has several systems potentially covered under the contract. AeroVironment, the main supplier of Group One UAVs to the US military, says the company can bid both the RQ-11 Raven and larger RQ-20 Puma.

Group One UAVs have been in high demand by forces deploying operationally to Afghanistan, amongst other places.

Source: Flight International