Next Generation Tactical Unmanned Aircraft System Technology Demonstrator

Monday, November 20, 2017

What is it?

The Next Generation Tactical Unmanned Aircraft System Technology Demonstrator (NexGen TUAS TD) is a science and technology effort led by the U.S. Army Aviation & Missile Research Development & Engineering Center’s Aviation Development Directorate (ADD).

ADD is working with industry to help inform and enable the Army’s future TUAS fleet slated to operate in the 2030 timeframe and beyond.

The objective of the NexGen TUAS TD is to identify, mature, and demonstrate enabling air vehicle technologies. NexGen TUAS TD will overcome key technology barriers and result in the desired performance, survivability, and reliability for an advanced, multi-role unmanned aircraft.

What is the Army doing?

The Army has established five main topics of focus:

  • Takeoff and landing methods
  • Performance sensitivities and trade-offs
  • Autonomy
  • All weather
  • Teaming

Along with specific questions within each area, the study teams will also evaluate the effects that potential requirements or capabilities would have on factors such as size/weight, manning requirements, transportability, and cost. This effort involves a partnership with the U.S. Army Training and Doctrine Command Capability Manager for Reconnaissance and Attack and Project Management Office for Unmanned Aircraft Systems.

What continued efforts does the Army have planned for the future?

In order to best accomplish its goals, the program is divided into three phases.

Phase I: technical data gathered will determine ADD’s technology development approach for future demonstrations. This will inform and refine FTUAS concepts of operations and system requirements for an acquisition program of record. The results are scheduled to be presented at a government workshop in May 2018.

Phase II: will be a Configuration Trade Studies and Analyses effort. This will be conducted to generate feasible conceptual designs satisfying the advanced UA requirements and capabilities refined from Phase I. Once specific technologies are selected for incorporation into the TD, ADD will establish quantitative metrics with a threshold and objective values.

Phase III: design, fabrication, integration, and initial test/demonstration activities will occur in 2020-2023, culminating with the final test/demonstration of air vehicle technologies in 2023.

Why is this important to the Army?

Unmanned Aircraft Systems currently outnumber manned systems in the fleet and will continue to grow in a number of aircraft, increased capability, and expanded mission sets. Future UAS must be capable of performing a diverse set of missions in contested airspace against near-peer adversaries on a multi-domain battlefield. ADD plans to provide knowledge to the user community and information to the Program Office enabling the development of a product that will provide an asymmetric advantage to the warfighter.

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