Insitu STUAS UAVInSitu Selected for STUAS UAV Program, Potential Future Orders: Over $0.5 Billion

The U.S. Navy Air Systems Command (NAVAIR) has selected the InSitu Integrator unmanned aircraft for the Small Tactical Unmanned Air System (STUAS)/Tier II system, and awarded the system developer Insitu Inc., – a wholly owned subsidiary of the Boeing Company – a contract worth nearly $44 million for the development and fielding of the service’s next generation tactical UAS, this contract will support low-rate initial production of two systems, one each for the U.S. Navy and U.S. Marine Corps.

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Reportedly worth around $450 million, STUAS/Tier II calls for an initial fielding of 56 UAV systems, beginning in 2013. This follow-on contract worth up to $450 million. Initial operating capability is expected in fourth quarter fiscal 2013.“I’m looking forward to fielding the capabilities of STUAS to our forward deployed forces,” said Capt. JR Brown, PMA-263 Program Manager. “This critical system will greatly increase their intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance capabilities in theater.” According to Insitu Vice President of Emerging Programs and STUAS/Tier II Program Manager Bill Clark, the Integrator provides unsurpassed growth capability for expanding into new and future missions. The Integrator STUAS team led by The InSitu also includes the Harris Corporation, Corsair Engineering and Black Ram Engineering Services. Each Integrator system will comprise three or four unmanned aircraft, multi-sensor Electro-Optical (EO) payloads and a ground segment including launch, recovery and mission control elements.

Early Deployment Could See Mixed Integrator, ScanEagle Units

Under the initial $43.7 million contract awarded last week (29 July 2010) Insitu will begin the 24-month engineering, manufacturing and development phase to build and test its Integrator UAS satisfying STUAS/Tier II system requirements. Following this phase the Corps will have an option to buy up to five Integrator UAV systems in fiscal 2011 for quick deployment alongside the currently fielded ScanEagle. Such an early stage operation could expand the current operational capabilities offered by ScanEagle beang leased from Boeing. ScanEagle and Integrator could share the same launch and recovery systems. The ScanEagle UAS that recently completed 340,000 combat flight hours was also built by Insitu has been leased by the U.S. Navy and Marine Corps since 2004, operated and supported in the field by civil contractors.

Introducing a New Multi-Sensor Payload

Insitu UAVAs with any UAV system, the sensors, the mission systems and, primarily the sensor payload is the main driver for the system’s success. Insitu’s continued to rely on its successful partnership with Alticam systems, currently called Alticam Vision, a division of Hood Technology that provided InSitu with EO sensors for the Scan Eagle since its inception. The Integrator will be equipped with a new EO payolad developed by Alticam Vision. The company’s gyro-stabilized 10″ diameter Multi-8000 turret that weighs 5.5 kg already provides simultaneous daylight and Near Infrared (NIR), Long Wave  Infrared (LWIR) and Mid-Wave Infra-Red thermal imaging (MWIR) covering the 3-5, 8-12 micron and the 400-900nm visual and Near InfraRed (NIR) spectral bands. A laser range finding and laser marking, effective to distances of about 3,000 meters and, ultimately, laser target designation were a mandatory requirement by the U.S. Marine Corps. The Multi-8000 stabilized turret uses a matching aperture for each sensor, contributing to the distinctive look of the Integrator’s foresection. For daylight and low-light level the 350,000 pixel CCD camera is fitted with a x36 optical zoom, while the FLIRs operate a fixed field of view with the 640×480 pixel MWIR using two magnifications – 2.5° and 10° while the 320×240 pixel LWIR, used mainly for orientation and situational awareness, opens a wide field of 24°. Hood Technology has already tested a miniature ‘Nano SAR‘ system that could also be fitted to the Integrator. Sensor images will be transmitted through an encrypted line-of-sight digital data link provided by L-3 Communication Systems-West. Harris Corporation will provide the next generation communications relay payload to support secure ground communications.

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