Wednesday, June 16, 2021

U.S. Navy to award contract for submarine-launched drones

The U.S. Navy plans to select a California-based AeroVironment Inc. to manufacture submarine-launched Blackwing drones, according to the U.S. government’s main contracting website.

In a notice posted on the Federal website on Tuesday, the Naval Sea Systems Command (NAVSEA) announced plans to issue a sole source contract to Aerovironment, Inc. for the procurement of Blackwing 10C Electro-Optic (EO) and Infrared (IR) equipped Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAV), in support of the Submarine-Launched Unmanned Aerial System (SLUAS) Program.

Tactical Temporary Installations (TEMPALT) of the SLUAS system integrating the Blackwing 10C equipped UAV is projected to be approved on 10 March 2021.

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The notice gives further details that in order to meet TEMPALT installation requirements, the U.S. Navy intends to procure up to 120 Blackwing 10C UAVs.

The ordering period of the planned IDIQ contract is projected to begin May 2021 and end May 2023, with deliveries beginning as early as August 2021.

Aerovironment says the Blackwing is a small, tube-launched unmanned aircraft that employs an advanced, miniature electro-optical and infrared payload, integrated inertial/GPS autopilot system and secure Digital Data Link (DDL), all packaged into a vehicle that launches from under the surface of the sea, from manned submarines and unmanned underwater vehicles (UUVs).

AeroVironment developed the Blackwing system as part of a 2013 Navy and United States Pacific Command (PACOM) sponsored Joint Capabilities Technology Demonstration (JCTD) called Advanced Weapons Enhanced by Submarine UAS against Mobile targets (AWESUM).

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About this Author

Dylan Malyasov
U.S. defense journalist and commentator. Aviation photographer. Dylan leads Defence Blog's coverage of global military news, focusing on engineering and technology across the U.S. defense industry.

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