By Mr. Kris Osborn, ASA(ALT) December 23, 2011
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
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
"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.