AAI Corp. has announced a new, larger version of the Aerosonde unmanned aircraft systems family quietly developed over the last two years has achieved first flight.
The Aerosonde Mark 5 could replace the Mark 4 as the AAI team’s offer for the US Navy’s small tactical UAS and US Marine Crops Tier II UAS programmes.
The company has revealed only sparse information about the new Mark 5.
AAI has disclosed that the Mark 5 configuration was finalized after the USN and USMC finalized the requirements for STUAS/Tier II, which represents a class of medium-endurance, low-altitude aircraft.
“As such, AAI designed the aircraft’s final configuration to comply with the objectives of these programs,” said AAI’s press release.
“Our experience and understanding of our military customers’ needs uniquely position us to meet these Navy and Marine Corps requirements,” said Steven Reid, AAI’s VP of UAS.
The Aerosonde bid faces a wide range of potential competitors for the STUAS/Tier II contract, which is scheduled to be opened for competition in the near future.
Potential rivals include the Boeing/Insitu ScanEagle or Integrator and the Raytheon/Swift Engineering KillerBee. Lockheed Martin, Northrop Grumman, BAE Systems and General Dynamics have also expressed interest in the competition.