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AUSA 2022: US Army to begin testing first FTUAS

AeroVironment displayed its Jump 20 unmanned aerial vehicle at the 2021 Association of the United States Army (AUSA) annual conference in Washington, DC. (Janes/Pat Host)

The US Army, which recently received its first Future Tactical Unmanned Aircraft System (FTUAS) from manufacturer AeroVironment, plans to begin trying out the equipment “very shortly”, according to an official at the US-based company.

The system, which includes six Jump 20 air vehicles and four ground control stations, will undergo “a few months” of testing and evaluation by the army, said Gorik Hossepian, the company's product line general manager for medium unmanned aircraft systems (UAS). AeroVironment field service representatives will support the testing effort, Hossepian told Janes on 7 October, ahead of Association of the United States Army (AUSA) 2022 conference held in Washington, DC, from 10 to 12 October.

The company delivered the system to the army in mid-September under an USD8 million contract it received in mid-August for FTUAS Increment 1. Based on the testing results, the army could buy up to seven additional Jump 20 systems for Increment 1, the service has said.

Increment 1 is intended to meet an “immediate operational need” to replace the runway-dependent Textron Systems RQ-7B Shadow UAS with a vertical take-off and landing UAS, according to the army. Like Shadow, Jump 20 performs intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR) missions.

AeroVironment is among several companies participating in a separate competition for FTUAS Increment 2. AeroVironment will offer Jump 20 but with slightly different capabilities to meet Increment 2's more robust requirements, such as increased power for the payload.

Hossepian said that AeroVironment operates Jump 20 “every day” for US Special Operations Command (SOCOM) under the Mid-Endurance Unmanned Aircraft Systems (MEUAS) IV programme. “We've logged about 116,000 hours for SOCOM with this bird,” he said.

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