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US Navy orders super-sensor for RQ-21 UAS

Logos Technologies will develop a highly advanced sensor suite for the Boeing Insitu RQ-21 Blackjack unmanned air system under an $18.2 million contract awarded by the US Office of Naval Research.

The Virginia-based contractor must develop and integrate four different sensors into a package that fits within the 17.8kg (39lb) maximum payload limit of the RQ-21, a small tactical unmanned air system operated by the US Navy and Marine Corps and foreign militaries.

The sensor suite will include an electro-optical camera, wide area imager, short wave infrared hyperspectral imager and a high-resolution camera for use as an inspection sensor, according to the contract award.

The key piece of the package is the hyperspectral capability. As funded under ONR’s spectral and reconnaissance imaging for tactical exploitation (SPRITE) programme, the sensor package is intended to monitor a wide area and detect improved explosive devices (IEDs).

The hyperspectral sensor is based on a “novel, multi-slit interferometer design”, ONR says in the contract award. An onboard payload management system will be able to process as much as a gigabyte of data per second.

Logos Technologies won the contract over nine competing vendors, according to ONR. Work under the contract is expected to be completed on 27 March 2020.

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