Textron Systems Corp., Hunt Valley, Maryland, was awarded a $9,032,500 modification (P00009) to contract W911QY-20-C-0025 for an Aerosonde MK4.7 aircraft. Aerosonde Mk 4.7 is an expeditionary Small Unmanned Aircraft System (SUAS) for tactical land-based and shipboard missions, field-proven over more than 100,000 flight hours in desert heat and arctic cold. Work will be performed in Hunt Valley, Maryland, with an estimated completion date of Sept. 27, 2023. Fiscal 2021 Foreign Military Sales (Nigeria) funds in the amount of $9,032,500 were obligated at the time of the award. U.S. Army Contracting Command, Redstone Arsenal, Alabama, is the contracting activity.
The Aerosonde is a small unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) designed to collect weather data, including temperature, atmospheric pressure, humidity, and wind measurements over oceans and remote areas. The Aerosonde was developed by Insitu, and is now manufactured by Aerosonde Ltd, which is a strategic business of AAI Corporation (AAI was acquired by Textron in 2007). The Aerosonde is powered by a modified Enya R120 model aircraft engine, and carries on board a small computer, meteorological instruments, and a GPS receiver for navigation. It is also used by the United States Armed Forces for intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR).
On 5 March 2012, the U.S. Special Operations Command (SOCOM) awarded AAI a contract to provide the Aerosonde-G for their Mid-Endurance UAS II program. By November 2015, Textron Systems was performing Aerosonde operations in “eight or nine” countries for its users, including the U.S. Marine Corps, U.S. Air Force, and SOCOM, as well as for commercial users consisting of a customer in the oil and gas industry. Instead of buying hardware, customers pay for “sensor hours,” and the company decides how many aircraft are produced to meet requirements. 4,000 fee-for-service hours were being performed monthly, and the Aerosonde had exceeded 110,000 flight hours in service.
The Mark 4.7 carries interchangable daytime color and night time FLIR video cameras and a laser pointer. The aircraft’s integrated launch and recovery system uses a catapult and net to allow for moving recoveries. The Aerosonde can also make a ground belly landing. The Aerosonde can be equipped with the Piccolo II Autopilot and TASE200 Gimbal as well as other sensors. Textron Systems offer flexible options customers’ mission goals, and support system sales with an established training curriculum, devices and instructional services. The company also offer a hybrid approach, including hands-on training for customer operators and maintainers.