A Jacksonville, Fla.-based drone manufacturer has been awarded a contract valued at $400,000 to supply its WATT electric tethered drone to an undisclosed U.S. Department of Defense (DOD) customer. The transaction represents the first WATT customer sale, said Drone Aviation Corp. (DAC).
A coaxial quad multi-rotor drone, the WATT electric tethered aerial platform operates at up to 400 feet for eight hours or longer, drawing power and transmitting data and telemetry through a Kevlar-armored tether connected to the ground. It carries turret-style gimbaled electro-optical/infrared payloads for day and night-time video, with an advertised vehicle detection range of six miles.
Different branches of the U.S. military are using or evaluating tethered drones. In July, CyPhy Works, a company based in Danvers, Mass., said the U.S. Army’s Rapid Equipping Force had ordered its Persistent Aerial Reconnaissance and Communications (PARC) system, based on a tethered six-rotor drone. In May, AeroVironment said the Pentagon’s Combating Terrorism Technical Support Office was evaluating its “Tether Eye” tethered quadcopter.
DAC said that it has received previous DOD contracts for its Winch Aerostat Small Platform (WASP), a mobile, tactical-sized aerostat capable of carrying a variety of payloads. The WATT contract was its first customer sale of a tethered multi-rotor drone.
“This new award from the DOD is a significant milestone for our company as we officially begin to train and support our nation’s early adopters of tethered drones,” said Jay Nussbaum, DAC chairman and CEO. “We expect this initial award to generate valuable data and deployment experience, something we intend to leverage to convert our prospect pipeline into tethered drone sales to customers in the government and commercial markets.”