US Army seeks non-combat drones to increase capacity to carry lethal payloads in combat

The US Army Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) unit invites tenders from industry to adapt non-combat drones with “lethal payloads for small unmanned aerial systems”, according to reports published by Defense One and DroneDj.

“According to the document, the initiative seeks to transform drones already qualified for the Department of Defense (DoD) Blue sUAS of trusted suppliers into munitions-loaded and -dropping UAVs. Those would eventually become standard US Army issue equipment for combat units and infantry soldiers, along with rifles, sidearms, and grenades,” reports DroneDj.

“The tender notes that current use of Blue sUAS drones are limited to “intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance (ISR) capabilities.” If successful, the adaptation of those UAVs to carry charges could give rise to mass produced craft costing far less than military-grade aerial systems, and “increase the lethality of (the US Army’s) Infantry Brigade Combat Teams.”

DroneDj provides details of US Army requirements as follows:

These payloads should:

  • Be attachable by Soldiers in the field
  • Employ ammunition or explosives currently in the Government inventory, allowing units to order through standard channels
  • Increase the lethal capability beyond that of the M67 fragmentation grenade-based solution currently in development
  • Integrate into the selected platform
  • Operate on the platform controller or include a simple system to initiate the payload (long term desire is for ATEK integration)
  • Be able to pass applicable safety testing
  • Be able to be made safe and dismounted from the platform if not detonated

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