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  • Insitu Wins STUAS Tier II
    Posted by Bill Sweetman 1:00 PM on Jul 30, 2010

    Boeing's Insitu subsidiary has been awarded a $43.7 million contract for the engineering and manufacturing development (EMD) phase of the Small Tactical Unmanned Air System (STUAS) Tier II program. Insitu's Integrator beat competition from Raytheon, General Dynamics/Elbit and AAI.

    blog post photo
    Insitu

    As my colleagues report here (subscription required) the initial operational capability date is in 2013 but the Navy has an option to acquire up to five contractor-operated systems. Integrator's predecessor, ScanEagle, has logged 340,000 combat hours with the Marine Corps and other customers, under surveillance-by-the-hour contracts in which Insitu owns the vehicles and provides launch, recovery and support services. Integrator itself is due to enter operational service this year, on a similar basis, with an unidentified customer.

    The win is a strong endorsement of Insitu's proactive product development and commercial-type business model, as well as of Boeing's strategy (which I coincidentally blogged on yesterday). Since the July 2008 takeover, Boeing's policy has been to let Insitu be Insitu - in fact, Boeing's ownership is confined to the smallest type on Insitu's homepage.

    Another interesting factoid about Insitu is that two of its key hires - chief technology officer Charles Guthrie and vp for emerging programs Bill Clark - came direct from Northrop Grumman's black-projects division. I think that says something about the company's working environment and culture.

    In the current issue of DTI (page 49), I wrote about Insitu's rapid development of the Integrator and the speed with which new payloads are being added to ScanEagle. A new feature on Integrator is a payload bay with a standard interface, the specifications for which will be available on the Web: the idea is to reduce integration times to hours.

    There's a clear and very important trend: as payloads get smaller, so do UAVs. However, there will be one important exception. High-end RF systems, whether passive or active, are sized by the laws of physics - so either you need to change the requirement, with more radars or small vehicles, or you will still need large UAVs for some missions.

    Tags: ar99, uav

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