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US Army selects Griffon Aerospace and Textron Systems for Future Tactical Unmanned Aircraft Systems Phase 2

Griffon Aerospace's Valiant. (Griffon Aerospace)

The US Army on 26 September selected the Griffon Aerospace Valiant and Textron Systems Aerosonde Mk 4.8 Hybrid Quadrotor (HQ) for the second phase of the Future Tactical Unmanned Aircraft Systems (FTUAS) competition.

Phase 2 of FTUAS is intended to advance the two designs through critical design review (CDR), the last step before building and testing a prototype aircraft.

“Following the CDR, the remaining [companies] will participate in flight demonstrations and MOSA [Modular Open Systems Architecture] third-party verification in the third agreement option period before delivering production representative weapon systems and support equipment for developmental testing and operational demonstrations,” the army said in a statement. “These systems will undergo numerous evaluation activities such as environmental testing, electromagnetic environmental effects testing, transportability testing, MOSA verification, flight-testing, and technical manual verification conducted at [corporate] and government facilities.”

Textron Systems' Aerosonde 4.8 HQ is a vertical take-off version of the Aerosonde 4.7s in use with the US Navy, Marine Corps, and Special Operations Command. The Aerosonde 4.8 HQ has a maximum take-off weight of 92 kg (205 lb), boasts a 13.6 kg (30 lb) payload capacity and a 14 hour endurance, according to the company.

Griffon Aerospace's Valiant is a new design, about which little has been publicly released. Griffon Aerospace, known primarily as the manufacturer of the MQM-170 target unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV), had not responded to questions at the time of publication.

The FTUAS is intended to result in a vertical take-off replacement for the Textron RQ-7 Shadow, which the army uses for brigade-level reconnaissance. Five companies were awarded Phase 1 contracts in March. The three platforms that were not selected for Phase 2 are AeroVironment's Jump 20, Northrop Grumman's V-Bat, and Sierra Nevada's Voly-T.

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