(Photo Credit: U.S. Army) VIEW ORIGINAL

The U.S. Army is using a hybrid-type acquisition approach to develop a

helicopter-like, Vertical-Take-Off-and-Landing (VTOL) Unmanned Aerial System

(UAS) with a so-called ARGUS wide-area surveillance sensor suite designed to

beam back information and images of the surrounding terrain, service

officials said.

Beginning in May or June of next year, the Army will deploy three

Boeing-built A160 Hummingbird VTOL UAS to Afghanistan as part of a Quick

Reaction Capability (QRC), an acquisition approach aimed at delivering

cutting-edge and emerging technologies to theater to add capability and

inform requirements while simultaneously developing a formal Program of

Record approach, said Lt. Col. Matthew Munster, Product Manager, UAS


"These aircraft will deploy for up to one full year as a way to harness

lessons learned and funnel them into a program of record," Munster said.

The formal VTOL Program of Record will involve a full and open competition

among many vendors able to propose UAS solutions able to meet the desired

requirements, he added.

Army VTOL UAS program developers and engineers are now finishing up some

wiring work on the A160 aircraft and performing ground tests with the ARGUS

sensor suite.

"The ARGUS sensor suite has never been flown on this platform before so we

have to make sure that the integration is complete. We are finishing that up

now and adding some different types of antennas. We begin flight testing of

the UAS at Yuma Proving Grounds, Ariz., early next year," Munster said.

The VTOL aircraft will give forward positioned Army units the ability to

deploy a wide-area UAS Intelligence, Surveillance Reconnaissance (ISR) asset

without needing access to a runway.

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