AAI Corp. in Hunt Valley, MD received a $127.6 million firm-fixed price contract for the full rate production buy for 14 Shadow unmanned aerial vehicle systems and associated support equipment. Work will be performed in Hunt Valley, MD and is expected to be complete on Mar. 15, 2010. One bid was solicited on Aug 16/07 by the U.S. Army Aviation and Missile Command (W58RGZ-08-C-0023). This compares to a $153.4 million contract for 14 systems in December 2007.
The Shadow is the Army’s de facto Class-II/battalion-level UAV; it is too small to carry weapons, but it can serve as a targeter for laser or GPS guided missiles, rockets, and artillery shells. The Shadow is also being developed as a communication relay with an impressive coverage range. Each Shadow system includes 4 RQ-7B unmanned aircraft, 2 One System(R) ground control stations and ground data terminals, 4 One System remote video terminals, a One System portable ground control station, and associated components and support equipment.
The system’s biggest challenge at the moment is “deconfliction,” or staying out of the way of other aircraft. As “Field Report on Raven, Shadow UAVs From the 101st” discusses, this limits the UAVs’ flexibility, and forces 48 hour flight plan lead times rather than fast reaction launches. Even so, Shadow UAVs accumulated almost 100,000 flight hours on the front lines in 2007.