The US Air Force (USAF) is seeking a small- to medium-sized vertical take-off and landing (VTOL) unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) to undertake support and security details at Travis Air Force Base (AFB) in California.
A request for information (RFI) posted by Air Mobility Command (AMC) on 19 June calls for a VTOL UAV “ecosystem” that can support a number of flight and ground operations for the 60th Air Mobility Wing (AMW), and its fleet of Lockheed Martin C-5M Galaxy, Boeing C-17 Globemaster III, and McDonnell-Douglas KC-10A Extender aircraft.
Specifically, the RFI is looking for a UAV that can be used day and night for aircraft and airfield inspections; approach lighting and Foreign Object Debris (FOD) sweeps of runways/taxiways/parking areas, etc; building inspections; post-attack reconnaissance sweep after a chemical attack (inspecting colour changes on pre-positioned chemical detection tape); maintenance-part delivery on the flightline; kinetic counter-UAV capability; perimeter patrol; crisis-response ‘eyes-on’ (during an active shooter situation, etc); personnel search and rescue; and commercial drone delivery. The RFI also calls for swarm-enabled formations to carry larger objects.
In terms of the UAV being sought, the RFI states that it should be a small- to medium-sized fixed-wing VTOL platforms weighing 20 lb (9.1 kg) or less; have a range of greater than 10 miles (16.1 km); should be low-cost; feature secure command and control; be survivable and robust; and be equipped with UAV collision avoidance technology.
Ground infrastructure should include traffic management solutions; identification friend-or-foe (IFF); wireless datalink to enable centralised override control capability to any UAV operating within the base perimeter; centralised dashboard for situational awareness of UAV locations within and just beyond the perimeter; an ability to push real-time geofencing data updates to UAV operators; the ability to approve, deny and revoke airspace clearances within the perimeter in real-time; and interoperability with other systems.
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