The US Army announced having selected Griffon Aerospace and Textron Systems Corporation for the next phase of the Future Tactical Uncrewed Aircraft Systems or FTUAS Rapid Prototyping Program.
The new FTUAS aims to replace the AAI RQ-7 Shadow drone with an Unmanned Aircraft System or UAS featuring vertical takeoff and landing capabilities, independent from traditional runways, and with a minimized acoustic signature. This aircraft should be easily transported and offer commanders the ability to conduct reconnaissance, surveillance, and target acquisition.
“FTUAS will provide a critical capability to the Brigade Combat Team’s ability to conduct reconnaissance and surveillance operations that collect, develop, and report actionable intelligence information about the enemy in Multi-Domain Operations,” the US Army said in a press release announcing the decision to eliminate Northrop Grumman, Sierra Nevada, and AeroVironment from the competition.
The RQ-7 Shadow is a medium-sized drone with a range of 110 kilometers (68 miles) intended for reconnaissance, target spotting, damage assessment, and other tasks, that was first introduced in 2002.
In August 2022, AeroVironment was awarded an $8 million contract by the US Army as part of an interim phase of the FTUAS program to deliver one Jump 20 system, which includes six UAS. The company is also known for having developed the Switchblade miniature loitering munition used by the US military and the armed forces of Ukraine.