US Army Receives First Future Tactical Unmanned Aircraft System Increment 1 System
US Army Receives First Future Tactical Unmanned Aircraft System Increment 1 System

US Army Receives First Future Tactical Unmanned Aircraft System Increment 1 System

The U.S. Army received the first Future Tactical Unmanned Aircraft System, Increment 1 — known as FTUAS, INC 1 — system on Sept. 12, 2022. The system consists of six air vehicles, six data terminals, six control stations and associated ground support equipment. The U.S. Army awarded an $8M other transaction authority agreement for the system on August 18, 2022, to AeroVironment, Inc. The air vehicles and ground equipment will undergo numerous tests such as environmental, transportability and flight testing at Redstone Arsenal. After testing concludes, the residual system of four air vehicles, four data terminals, four control stations and associated ground support equipment will be delivered to an Army brigade combat team for an operational assessment. Based upon the results of testing and assessment, Army leadership may decide to procure and field up to seven additional INC 1 systems.

Rich Hanley, the Joint Systems Integration Laboratory FTUAS test cell tech lead, reinstalls an access panel on one of the FTUAS air vehicles. (U.S. Army Photo by David Hylton)
Rich Hanley, the Joint Systems Integration Laboratory FTUAS test cell tech lead, reinstalls an access panel on one of the FTUAS air vehicles. (U.S. Army Photo by David Hylton)

FTUAS is a vertical takeoff and landing, runway-independent, reduced acoustic signature aircraft that can be transported organically while providing commanders with on-the-move reconnaissance, surveillance and target acquisition capabilities. FTUAS allows rapid emplacement, in less than 45 minutes, and has a reduced size and footprint compared to the Shadow while providing comparable performance. INC 1 leverages lessons-learned from the year-long FTUAS demonstration and will field readily available mature technologies in response to a directed requirement from the Army Futures Command. It will also inform the doctrine, organization, training, materiel, leadership, personnel, facilities and policy requirements for the FTUAS INC 2 program. INC 2 is a separate competitive acquisition. FTUAS will be transportable by a single CH-47, provide over six hours of operating endurance, and will be capable of operating out to 100 kilometers.

Soldiers from 1st Armored Brigade Combat Team, 1st Infantry Division, Fort Riley, Kan. prepare the AeroVironment, Inc, JUMP20 for flight at the FTUAS Rodeo at Leyte West Airfield, Fort Benning, Georgia. (U.S. Army Photo by Mr. Luke J. Allen)

The U.S. Army awarded the Future Tactical Unmanned Aircraft System (FTUAS) Increment 1 (INC 1) Other Transaction Agreement (OTA) on August 18, 2022, to AeroVironment, Inc for one (1) JUMP 20 system. The system consists of six (6) Air Vehicles, ground data terminals and ground control stations. This award has a value of $8M and is the result of a competitive evaluation. The OTA is for the purchase, testing, and delivery of one (1) system to a single Army Brigade Combat Team (BCT). Based upon the results of testing, Army leadership may decide to procure and field up to seven (7) additional INC 1 systems. INC 1 leverages lessons-learned from the year-long FTUAS demonstration and will field readily available mature technologies in response to a Directed Requirement from the Army Futures Command. INC 1 meets an immediate operational need from units for a replacement for the RQ-7B Shadow and will inform the Doctrine, Organization, Training, materiel, Leadership, Personnel, Facilities, and Policy (DOTmLPF-P) requirements for the FTUAS INC 2 program. INC 2 is a separate competitive acquisition.

Soldiers from the 1st Armored Brigade Combat Team, 1st Infantry Division, execute the air vehicle control handoff capabilities with the AeroVironment, Inc’s JUMP 20 in a simulated urban environment during the Army’s FTUAS capability assessment, at Fort Riley, Kansas.(Photo by Jonathan Koester)

The FTUAS INC 2 acquisition is continuing independently of but in parallel with the INC 1 award and testing. The Aviation and Missile Technology Consortium (AMTC) released the FTUAS INC 2 Request for White Papers on 1 October 2021. The PEO Aviation FTUAS team is conducting a technical evaluation of the submissions in preparation for the rapid prototyping effort. The U,S. Army requires replacement of the workhorse RQ-7B Shadow with a vertical takeoff and landing, runway-independent, reduced acoustic signature aircraft that can be transported organically while providing commanders with “on the move” reconnaissance, surveillance, and target acquisition capabilities. FTUAS will allow rapid emplacement in less than 45 minutes, have a reduced size and footprint compared to the Shadow and have comparable performance. FTUAS will be transportable by a single CH-47, provide over six hours of operating endurance, and operate out to 100 kilometers.

The FTUAS INC 1 Jump 20 is shown conducting flight tests and maneuvers on February 25-26, 2021, at Leyte West Airfield, Fort Benning, Georgia during the Future Tactical Unmanned Aircraft System (FTUAS) Rodeo. The Rodeo was the capstone event for a year-long capabilities assessment of four commercial systems conducted by five brigade combat teams. (U.S. Army Photo by Mr. Luke J. Allen)