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US Army picks AeroVironment's Jump 20 for FTUAS Increment 1

A US Army solider assigned to 1st Engineer Battalion, 1st Infantry Division, conducts an engine start on the Jump 20 at Fort Riley in Kansas in April 2020. The service has selected the UAS for its FTUAS Increment 1 programme. (US Army )

The US Army selected AeroVironment's Jump 20 medium unmanned aerial system (UAS) for its first Future Tactical Unmanned Aircraft System (FTUAS) programme, a pathway designed to replace the runway-dependent RQ-7B Shadow fleet.

The service awarded an USD8 million ‘other transaction agreement' contract to the company on 18 August for one Jump 20 system, the army announced on the same day. Each system includes six air vehicles, ground data terminals, and ground control stations.

Once the company delivers the system to the army, programme officials plan to conduct additional tests and deliver it to a brigade combat team (BCT).

“Based upon the results of testing, army leadership may decide to procure and field up to seven additional [FTUAS increment 1] systems,” the army wrote on 18 August.

“[FTUAS Increment 1] leverages lessons-learnt from the year-long FTUAS demonstration and will field readily available mature technologies in response to a directed requirement from the Army Futures Command,” the service added. “Increment 1 meets an immediate operational need from units for a replacement for the RQ-7B Shadow and will inform the doctrine, organisation, training, materiel, leadership, personnel, facilities, and policy (DOTmLPF-P) requirements for the FTUAS Increment 2 programme.”

The army evaluated several contenders for FTUAS Increment 1 including the L3Harris FVR-90 hybrid quadcopter, the Shield AI V-BAT, the Textron Systems Aerosonde Hybrid Quadrotor (HQ), and the AeroVironment Jump 20.

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