Defense Media Network

U.S. Army Seeks Nano Unmanned Aerial System

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The U.S. Army’s Rapid Equipping Force (REF) has requested information from industry to help identify potential sources for a new “Nano Unmanned Aerial System” capability for U.S. warfighters.

According to the sources sought announcement, the mission of the U.S. Army REF is to “rapidly increase mission capability while reducing risk to soldiers and others by equipping operational commanders with off-the-shelf (government or commercial) solutions or near-term developmental items that can be researched, developed and acquired quickly.”

The REF receives requirements from operational commanders in war zones who identify the capabilities needed in their operational areas.

The REF’s March 13 announcement identifies a requirement for a Nano Unmanned Aerial System (NUAS) “to be employed by dismounted soldiers in close combat scenarios to aid in threat/target detection in real time.”

Minimum requirements identified for the notional NUAS:

  • Must capture and relay intelligence and imagery of sufficient resolution and stability to inform user of potential threat/target in real time;
  • Must be user friendly, easy to operate, and require minimal training for user proficiency;
  • Must facilitate automated mission planning inputs as well as dynamic user inputs;
  • Must be capable of launch without launching system;
  • Total system (to include but not limited to vehicle(s), base station(s), controller(s), etc.) must weigh less than or equal to 5 pounds;
  • Must be deployable from storage to launch in less than or equal to 5 minutes;
  • Must be storable in less than or equal to 5 minutes;
  • Must successfully operate in steady winds of at least 5 knots;
  • Must successfully operate in wind gusts of at least 10 knots;
  • Flight endurance must be greater than or equal to 20 minutes;
  • Flight range must be greater than or equal to 500 meters;
  • Must facilitate nearby operation of multiple NUAS systems without interference;
  • Must operate safely in the event of a lost data link, and;
  • Must be able to fly in precipitation.

In addition, notional delivery objectives call for two systems to be delivered to a prescribed location no later than 60 days after any resulting award.

Industry is invited to submit white papers in response to the announcement, including a rough order of magnitude cost, supporting a company’s claims that it has the technology, organization, production facilities, corporate quality business processes, capabilities, management plans and experience and past performance to meet or exceed the performance and delivery objectives described. That information will then be provided to REF representatives who will evaluate the information and feasibility of issuing a procurement action to resolve the stated problem.

The industry responses are currently due no later than 4:00 PM Eastern on March 26, 2012.

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Scott Gourley is a former U.S. Army officer and the author of more than 1,500...