$129M for 48 More RQ-7B Shadow UAVs
AAI Corporation, the defense subsidiary of United Industrial Corporation, has received a $129 million award from the U.S. Army for 12 additional Shadow Tactical Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (TUAV) systems. Each system includes 4 advanced RQ-7B air vehicles, 2 ground control stations, and associated components and support equipment, and will be delivered over the next 18 months.
The 7B block upgrade for Shadow systems incorporates changes to the wing, tail, and avionics.
The Aug. 2004 upgrade was the first major system upgrade since Shadow TUAVs went into production in 2002. The RQ-7B’s wing has been made larger to accommodate the anticipated addition of the Tactical Common Data Link (TCDL) to the battlefield by the U.S. Army, which also improves the aerodynamic properties of the wing and enhance vehicle performance. In addition, the size of the tail of the air vehicle has been increased to aerodynamically balance the changes in the wing.
Overall, the changes result in extending total endurance time for each air vehicle from five hours to more than six hours per mission. Moreover, improvements to the Shadow’s avionics systems and payload have been incorporated in the new block upgrade in order to increase target location accuracy. The Athena Technologies, Inc. GS-211e flight controller adds an inertial measurement unit and improves the computer processing power inside the air vehicle, providing more accurate navigation and attitude sensing.
Since being deployed to Iraq at the outset of military operation in early 2003, Shadow TUAV systems have flown more than 9,300 sorties and 37,000 flight hours in support of U.S. and allied operations.
Since December 1999, when the U.S. Army selected AAI to be the Shadow TUAV system prime contractor, the company has received awards for the production of 55 Shadow systems, bringing the total number of air vehicles ordered to 220. 31 systems have been delivered so far, with system deliveries now extending through November 2006.