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On Sept 11/09, L-3 Communications Geneva Aerospace of Carrollton, TX received a not-to-exceed $250 million indefinite-delivery/ indefinite-quantity contract for U.S. Special Operations Command’s Expeditionary Unmanned Aircraft System. The competed contract is for 1 year with 4 option years, with a minimum of $5 million and orders to be issued as desired (H92222-09-D-0051). That minimum was met immediately in the initial $6.6 million delivery order. See also L-3 release.
L-3 is not known as a UAV maker; instead, their Geneva Aero subsidiary is best known as a maker of key flight and datalink systems for use in UAVs. The firm is expanding their reach, however, and L-3 representatives confirmed to DID that the SOCOM UAV is their Viking 400 model [PDF]. It’s larger than SOCOM’s Puma AE mini-UAVs, and in a similar size class to Aerovironment’s RQ-7 Shadow.
The all-composite Viking 400 UAV is 14.7 feet (4.5m) long with a 20 foot (6.1m) wingspan, and is assembled in the field like a model aircraft. It weighs 320 pounds (145 km) empty, and is powered by Zanzoterra’s 38hp 498i Twin Boxer engine. Maximum payload is 75-100 pounds (34-45 kg) of sensors in nearly 7,000 cubic inches of payload volume. The UAV leverages L-3 Geneva Aerospace’s extensive work on its flightTEK autonomous take-off and landing system, and missions are flown using GPS waypoint navigation that can be reassigned during flight. Payloads can include Electro-Optical/ Infrared, LIDAR (LIght Detection And Ranging, a sort of laser radar that’s good at seeing through trees and obstacles), SIGINT (SIGnals INTelligence – communication intercepts), ELINT(ELectronic INTelligence – includes signals from radars, remote detonators, etc.) and/or CBRN (Chemical/ Biological/ Radiological/ Nuclear) sensors. UAV Range is over 70 nautical miles (130 km) at a speed of 60-90 knots (111-167 km/h), but line-of-sight is required for the datalink to work.