Griffon now has four prime contracts with the U.S. government. “That's nearly unheard of for a small company,” French says. In addition to the 130-lb. Outlaw, the company has contracts to provide the larger, 550-lb. Broadsword, which is being used to simulate tactical-class unmanned aircraft systems (UAS). The Outlaw G2 will enter qualification next month and eventually replace the MQM-170A in production and on existing contracts.
The Outlaw G2 will be offered when the company's current five-year Army contract comes up for recompetition within the next two years. Griffon also is preparing to bid on another large prime contract, a small-business set-side, and this time has teamed to “two very large companies” that will provide additional expertise.
The 250-300-lb. twin-engine aircraft, now entering fabrication and expected to fly early next year, represents a step up for Griffon and is based on its experience operating the Outlaw, which often carries payloads costing far more than the aircraft. “That makes me nervous,” says French, “so I want a backup engine on the aircraft.”
The twin—six of which have already been sold—is also “an initial step to something bigger,” he says. Despite its success in the target market, Griffon has not been able to break into the operational UAS business. “Since 2004 we have had our hands full meeting the demand we have,” says French, who believes the lack of success so far may prove “providential” in the longer term.
“If we are going to get into the UAS market, then our next airframe will have the aerodynamics and structures in place so that we can play in that class of aircraft with a no-kidding offering,” he says. “We will not have to make apologies for our product and turn down opportunities. It has taken us time to put the infrastructure in place [to build such an aircraft].”
In launching development of the new twin-engine aircraft, Griffon has gone back to its “build it and they will come” roots. “I like to make things, and hope they do come,” says French. “We have a passion to build things. It's the philosophy of Griffon.”