AeroVironment, Inc. a manufacturer of unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) for both military and commercial applications, received a contract award from the United States Navy for continuation and expansion of its Blackwing™ small Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAV) program. The contract includes orders for multiple Blackwing vehicles, sensor payloads and refurbishment kits for a total value of $2,578,822.
Blackwing is a small, tube-launched unmanned aircraft that employs an advanced, miniature electro-optical and infrared (EO/IR) 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).
Blackwing builds on AeroVironment’s extensive operational experience with small UAS and its Switchblade® Lethal Miniature Aerial Missile System (LMAMS) to provide the Navy with a low-cost, submarine-launched UAS optimized for denied environments. 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). This JCTD was completed in September 2015 with a strong recommendation to transition the capability into the fleet.
AeroVironment’s Blackwing can also be integrated with and deployed from a wide variety of surface vessels and mobile ground vehicles to provide the kind of rapid response reconnaissance capabilities needed to help warfighters proceed with certainty, even in the most challenging settings. The miniature flying ISR package can be operated manually or autonomously. Blackwing’s built-in, jointly interoperable datalink enables cross-domain command and control (C2) relay operations between land, surface and undersea manned and unmanned vessels. Blackwing provides the operator with real-time video for information gathering and feature/object recognition, and the vehicle’s small size and quiet motor make it difficult to detect, recognize and track even at close ranges. Its modular payload bay is designed to enable a variety of specific mission capabilities.
The Naval Undersea Warfare Center, Division Newport (NUWCDIVNPT) awarded this contract to AeroVironment, the only manufacturer of the Blackwing UAS, on a sole source basis in accordance with Federal Acquisition Regulations (FAR) guidelines.
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