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US Navy seeks to expand Blue Water UAS programme

Skyways' V2.5 separate lift cruise VTOL UAS takes off from the flight deck of Military Sealift Command's USNS Joshua Humphreys (T-AO 188) fleet replenishment oiler when the ship was at sea in the Atlantic Ocean on 16 July 2021. NAWCAD is seeking investment to expand the Blue Water UAS programme and accelerate the technology. (US Navy)

The US Naval Air Warfare Center Aircraft Division (NAWCAD) is seeking investment for its Blue Water Maritime Logistics Unmanned Aerial System (UAS) effort to contract additional companies and advance the technology faster.

Bill Macchione, Blue Water UAS project lead, told Janes on 28 September that this investment could come from sources within the Office of Naval Research (ONR), the Office of the Secretary of Defense (OSD), the Office of the Chief of Naval Operations (OPNAV), or outside the US Navy (USN). Macchione said this funding could have the Blue Water UAS technology proven and mature by the time the USN determines there is a hard requirement for the capability as a programme of record.

The USN in June awarded Pterodynamics a USD655,000 other transaction authority (OTA) contract, including unexercised options, to deliver three of its 4 m wingspan Transwing 13 folding wing vertical takeoff and landing (VTOL) aircraft by June 2022. Skyways of Austin, Texas, received an OTA in August 2019 worth USD575,000 and a follow-on award in late 2020. Skyways is developing a capability on its Group 3 separate lift cruise (SLC) VTOL aircraft to have its wings autonomously fold after take off and before landing, which could provide better handling or ship storage.

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