PATUXENT RIVER, Md. - The Navy, via the Air Systems Command (NAVAIR), announced on Thursday that in the coming months, the PMA-263 acquisition program office intends to hold a full and open competition to fill the requirement for a small, tactical unmanned aerial system (UAS), to be utilized by both the Navy and Marine Corps. The Navy says that their experience with this size of UAS in Operation Iraqi Freedom and the Global War on Terror has validated the need for this capability.
The small UAS is expected to provide persistent intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance support for tactical level decisions and unit level defense, and protection for Navy ships and Marine Corps land forces. The draft request for proposal (RFP) is expected to be released this fall.
The Navy refers to this system as the Small Tactical UAS (STUAS) while the Marine Corps refers to it as Tier II UAS.
Currently the small UAS capability is being met in theater by sole-sourced service contracts for the Navy and the Marine Corps through their respective acquisition commands. Under such service contracts, the UAS is owned and operated by the contractor, not the government. This year, the Navy and USMC will each continue with service contracts, but on a competitive basis. This effort will continue until the larger, STUAS/Tier II joint effort reaches initial operational capability in Fiscal Year 2010.
The Marine Corps Warfighting Lab in Quantico, Virginia, has begun a Tier II UAS concept demonstration effort. This system will serve as a test bed for developing concepts of operation; techniques, training and procedures (TTPs); new technologies; and advanced payloads. The information gathered from the Marine Corps concept demonstrator will be used in the development of the combined STUAS/Tier II program at PMA-263.
The UAS program office, PMA-263, reports to the Program Executive Office, Strike Weapons and Unmanned Aviation (PEO (W)), and is located at the Naval Air Station, Patuxent River, Maryland.