Insitu, a subsidiary of Boeing, has won the U.S. Navy’s small tactical unmanned air system (STUAS)/Tier II competition to provide the Navy and Marine Corps with an easily deployable ISR (intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance) capability. A decision on STUAS/Tier II was originally expected in the spring, but was delayed while the Navy continued its evaluations of competing systems. Losing bidders included Raytheon (Killer Bee), AAI (Aerosonde Mk IV) and UAS Dynamics (a joint Elbit/General Dynamics venture offering the Skylark II).
Under the initial two-year $43.7 million engineering and manufacturing development contract, Insitu will build six Integrator air vehicles for testing on land and at sea. The contract includes two options, the first covering the early operational capability of five systems by Fiscal Year 2011, and the second covering the low-rate production of complete systems for the Navy and Marine Corps. The contracting agency is Naval Air Systems Command’s PMA-263 office.
Current STUAS/Tier II requirements stand at 24 systems for the Navy and 32 for the Marine Corps, with initial operating capability slated for the fourth quarter of 2013. The number of aircraft could rise in the future as the Navy defines its shipboard requirements. Currently, the Navy uses predominantly Insitu’s smaller Scan Eagle for shipborne ISR, operated by the company on service contracts.
Integrator has a heavy fuel engine and uses Insitu’s unique Skyhook method of recovery, in which the wingtip snags a vertical wire. For STUAS it is proposed with a stabilized EO/IR (electro-optic/infrared) sensor package developed by Hood Technology/AltiCam Vision, encrypted line-of-sight datalink from L-3 Communications Systems West and a secure communications relay package from Harris Corporation.