An Airbus Defence & Space and Textron Systems team is due to travel to Yuma Proving Ground in Arizona, USA this week, to carry out testing of its offering for France’s tactical unmanned air vehicle requirement for the French DGA defence procurement agency.
The team is offering Textron’s Shadow M2 UAV with Airbus modifications – the DGA required that a French company be prime on the programme – and this testing will be the first of the system for France.
It is currently in the source selection stage of the programme, and is being pitched against systems such as the Thales WK450 Watchkeeper that is operational with the British Army, and the Sagem Patroller UAV.
If the Textron/Airbus bid is successful, this would be the first contract for the Shadow M2 – the newest offering by the company.
Elsewhere in Europe, Textron is eyeing a number of other tenders, including ones in Denmark, the Netherlands, Norway, Poland and Ukraine.
Poland is actively seeking a range of new UAVs, starting with a smaller system and working up to a tactical UAV capability.
“We understand that they are coming out with a tactical requirement,” Bill Irby, senior vice president and general manager of Textron unmanned systems, tells Flight Daily News. “We are going to compete for that…they are interested in a broad set and they have the money for it.”
Textron is in the process of discussing potential partnerships with Polish companies, as it is understood that one of the requirements for this is domestic industrial participation.
Poland also supposedly requires an armed tactical UAV, although Irby could not offer more details on this.
A requirement for the tactical programme is expected within a year, he adds, and it is not yet clear what size UAV Warsaw will require, be it a smaller system that would suit Textron’s Aerosonde or a larger one that would suit the Shadow.
Discussions between Textron and Ukraine have been underway before the recent events with Russia unfolded, meanwhile, and although the requirement has been accelerated recently, it is unclear what its specific requirements are, and whether the company will pitch the Aerosonde or a Shadow variant.
Denmark and Norway also both have potential requirements in the pipeline, although no official programmes have yet begun.
A competition in the Netherlands is in the source selection phase, and a decision on whether it chooses the Aerosonde is expected to be made in the last quarter of this year, Irby says.
Additionally, the Italian army has received two Shadow V2 UAVs with two more in the process of being delivered.