US Army Looking For New Low-Cost Portable Spy Drone

By Dan Parsons | November 9, 2018
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Photo by Greg Clarke

The U.S. Army is seeking a new short-range reconnaissance (SRR) drone that’s inexpensive, small enough to fit in a soldier’s pack, and simple enough to set up on the battlefield in a matter of minutes.

Defense Innovation Unit, the Pentagon’s experimental technologies office, released a commercial solutions opening notice last week and will hold a series of pitch opportunities and operational evaluations to find the Army’s SRR unmanned aircraft.


“SRR is intended to be an inexpensive, rucksack portable, vertical take-off and landing (VTOL) small unmanned aircraft that provides the platoon with a rapidly deployed intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance (ISR) capability to provide situational awareness beyond the next terrain feature,” officials wrote in the notice.

DIU is looking to award several prototype Other Transaction Agreements to equipment units with low quantities of the SRR for operational evaluation.

Based on the evaluation, a follow-on production OTA will be awarded for wider fielding.

Current requirements for the drone include a 30-minute flight time, a three kilometer operational range, ability to fly semi-autonomously and capable of withstanding winds of 15 kt or greater.

SRR is also expected to be designed for modular full motion video and still image sensor use, capable of enabling electro-optical detection for up to 300 meters and utilizing infrared sensors for ranges up to 200 meters.

DIU is accepting submissions through Nov. 18 for SRR.

Select companies will then have an opportunity to pitch their drone in January to DIU in Boston. The pitch will also include a flight demonstration of the SRR offering.

Following the pitch period, DIU will start accepting formal proposals.

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