The US Army has been allowed to shift $1 billion in procurement accounts to award a contract for the extended range multipurpose (ERMP) unmanned air vehicle. The army’s selection, which has been delayed two months, could be made early this week. The contenders are the General Atomics Warrior and the Northrop Grumman Hunter II, derivatives of the medium-range Predator and Heron UAVs.

Source selection was delayed while the army awaited approval from Congress to reprogramme funds from the cancelled Boeing/Sikorsky/RAH-66 Comanche programme. The reasons for the delay have not been disclosed.

The contract will launch a three-year system development and demonstration programme, with the first of about 60 UAV deliveries to start in fiscal year 2009. The ERMP vehicle would offer the army an equivalent capability to the US Air Force’s RQ-1 Predator. The army is meanwhile developing an advanced mission payload called the electro-optical infrared with laser designator (EO/IR/LD) suite. Weaponising the ERMP remains an unfunded option, but the army plans to integrate a weapon capability for a demonstration starting in FY07.

Source: Flight International