The US Army has conducted a large demonstration exercise of contender systems for its Future Tactical UAS (FTUAS) requirement to replace its RQ-7 Shadow UAS in service.
Held at Fort Benning in late February and early March, the ‘rodeo’ saw the four competing systems – the Textron Aerosonde HQ, L3Harris FVR-90, Arcturus Jump 20, and the Martin UAV V-Bat – conduct a series of exercises that were culmination of a year-long US Army evaluation of the systems.
Called soldier touch points, or STPs, the evaluation was conducted by US Army UAS operators. While the STPs do not replace formal testing, they are designed to provide feedback to the UAS designers for faster design refinement. The ‘rodeo’ consisted of flight demonstrations of all four systems, and gave the opportunity for the UAS operators to provide direct feedback to senior US Army leaders.
Initial feedback from the ‘rodeo’ suggests the US Army may consider buying more than one system for FTUAS. “That will all be dealt with based on how requirements are formalised and the resources that will sit alongside those requirements, but that is certainly a potential path forward,” US Army Brig Gen Robert Barrie told media on March 2.
Of the four competing FTUAS systems, the Textron Aerosonde HQ is also under consideration by the Australian Army for its LAND 129 Phase 3 tactical UAS requirement – which will also replace the Shadow UAS – along with the Insitu ScanEagle/Integrator systems.