US Navy seeking proposals for close-range armed UAVs

The US Navy is seeking proposals for small and medium close-range armed unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV) in a request for information released on July 6. 

Illustration: A rotary wing UAV from the Space and Naval Warfare Systems Center, Pacific, lifts off as part of exercise Unmanned Warrior in October 2016. Photo: US Navy

The Naval Surface Warfare Center (NSWC) Crane Division is eyeing potential procurement of commercial off-the-shelf (COTS) UAVs that could carry small arms, rockets, grenades, and less-than-lethal weapons and devices.

The RFI states that the sought UAVs are those that are developed but not yet in production, but can reasonably be expected to be in the status of test-ready articles for comparative testing on or about April of 2019.

The small and medium UAVs include armed UAVs that have a range of up to 50 km and endurance time of 5 minutes to 6 hours. They can be either hover or loiter type UAVs. It is also stated that the UAVs should be compatible with common tactical mobile smartphones or other mobile devices and capable of single and double person operation.

Ordinary close range-UAVs are usually used only for reconnaissance and surveillance tasks; however the UAVs that NSWC Crane Division seeks should be armed for immediate firing on targets found during reconnaissance and surveillance flights.

The purpose of this RFI is to inform future armed UAV procurement, the navy stated.