U.S. Navy announces tactical resupply unmanned aircraft challenge
The U.S. Navy announced a prize challenge Sept. 27 for its future tactical resupply unmanned aircraft system (UAS) that will aid in the distribution of critical supplies for the Marine Corps.
“Our goal is to provide an autonomous aerial delivery capability to the Marine Corps for field user evaluation”, said Col. John Neville, Navy and Marine Corps Small Tactical UAS (PMA-263) program manager. “The use of the prize challenge will aid us in getting this capability to the Marines faster and hopefully set another course for the way we do rapid acquisition in the tactical arena.”
PMA-263’s small Unmanned Logistics Support – Air (ULS-A) effort is seeking prototypes that can transport at least 60lbs of cargo in various configurations commonly found in company/platoon/squad resupply operations (ex: 5-gallon water can, ammo can/case, Meals-Ready-to-Eat (MRE) case) through a 10km radius and return unburdened to the launch site via automated launch, waypoint navigation, and automated landing.
“We’re looking for companies that already have a robust prototype that can meet the challenge requirements and are excited to see what innovative technologies are demonstrated,” said Christina Petrow, USL-A team lead.
The prize challenge will consist of two phases: first phase will be a formal invitation to participate in the fly-off competition planned for January in Yuma, Arizona, based on applications received. The second phase will be actual participation in the fly-off competition, demonstrating the vendor’s prototype capabilities and ability to meet requirements. The challenge submissions will be scored and evaluated by a panel of judges. Vendors will receive $100,000 for first place; $75,000 for second place; and $50,000 for third place.
Successful participation in this prize challenge may result in the award of an other transaction agreement or award of a procurement contract for experimental purposes or a combination of these.
Innovation and Modernization Patuxent River (IMPAX) is assisting PMA-263 with the ULS-A prize challenge. IMPAX, Naval Air Warfare Center Aircraft Division’s partnership intermediary with Georgia Tech Research Institute, was designed to accelerate the “spin-in” of technology from industry to the warfighter.