US-based unmanned aircraft system (UAS) engineering and manufacturing company Altavian has received a contract from the US Army to develop a military drone prototype.

The Short Range Reconnaissance (SRR) Prototype contract is part of the army’s plans to deploy a next-generation drone weighing less than 5lb.

Development of the UAS technology portfolio aims to improve the protection of soldiers through advanced situational awareness capabilities.

The SRR programme seeks to augment the army’s existing fleet of small UAS currently deployed in short-range and urban environments.

Defense Innovation Unit (DIU) is heading the exercise to accelerate prototype deployment and guide programme development. It is working with PEO Aviation in this endeavour.

Altavian chief operating officer and co-founder Thomas Rambo said: “This contract is a strategic win for Altavian and the entire US drone manufacturing base. The defence sector is actively seeking leading-edge technology solutions developed by small, agile, and innovative companies that are competitive in a global market.”

“According to the DIU, the SRR needs to serve as a portable, vertical take-off and landing (VTOL) small unmanned aircraft.”

The latest award comes after the company received a contract in March last year to provide equipment for the existing UAS fleet, including avionics, radios, ground controllers, and spare parts.

The firm is also supporting legacy systems with a full capability set.

Altavian expects the contract to continue until 2020. The company aims to win the exercise and hopes that the selected system will become the army’s newest UAS programme of record.

DIU is designed to expedite the adoption of commercial technology into the US Military .

According to the DIU, the SRR needs to serve as a portable, vertical take-off and landing (VTOL) small unmanned aircraft.

The army will deploy the aircraft to provide the platoon with a rapidly deployed intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance capability to provide ‘situational awareness beyond the next terrain feature’.