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AUSA 2021: Shield AI leverages V-Bat improvements for US Army's FTUAS programme

Shield AI's Martin UAV V-Bat tailsitting fixed-wing vertical take-off and landing unmanned aerial vehicle as seen on 1 October 2021 in Shield AI's office outside Washington, DC. Shield AI is offering the new V-Bat variant, the 128, for FTUAS Increment 1 while offering the V-Bat fully integrated with the company's Hivemind portable software for Increment 2. (Janes/Pat Host)

Shield AI is improving its Martin UAV V-Bat tail-sitting fixed-wing vertical take-off and landing (VTOL) aircraft that it is offering for the US Army's Future Tactical Unmanned Aircraft System (FTUAS) programme's two-pronged parallel approach.

Brandon Tseng, Shield AI co-founder and chief growth officer, told Janes on 1 October, ahead of the Association of the United States Army's (AUSA's) annual convention, that the company is offering the newest V-Bat variant – the 128 – for FTUAS Increment 1, with Northrop Grumman Technology Services (NGTS) serving as the prime contractor. Tseng said the company will leverage improvements to the platform, such as satellite communications capability and a laser designator that are being added to the aircraft for the US Special Operations Command's (SOCOM)'s Multi-mission Tactical UAS (MTUAS) programme.

SOCOM has selected the V-Bat 128 for MTUAS. Command spokesman Ken McGraw said on 8 October that Shield AI was awarded an other transaction authority (OTA) agreement for the V-Bat on 21 September.

US Army spokesman David Hylton said on 6 October that Increment 1 is for an accelerated fielding capability of mature technologies. It will meet an operational need and replace the Textron Systems Unmanned Systems RQ-7B Shadow tactical UAS within some of the US Army's brigade combat teams (BCTs).

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