Textron Systems has secured a contract to deliver 36 Shadow unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) in the latest Block III configuration to the US Army.

The $66m contract also includes ongoing engineering services and necessary support for the Shadow Block III UAS.

Textron Systems senior vice-president David Phillips said: “We are proud to maintain our strong partnership of more than 20 years with the US Army on the Shadow programme.

“The Shadow Block III will support the customer with the enhanced capabilities soldiers need to fulfil today’s and tomorrow’s missions.”

According to the company, the RQ-7B V2 Block III Shadow is the latest version of the UAS set to enter services next year.

The system underwent several design improvements to better operate in adverse weather conditions.

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It is also equipped with a more powerful engine, advanced communications relay, high-definition day-and-night video payload and improved manned-unmanned teaming capabilities with the army’s Apache assets.

The version has a range of around 125km with an endurance of eight hours.

Overall, the Shadow Tactical UAS has completed 1.25 million flight hours.

Currently, the US Department of Defence and Italy uses the Shadow Version 2 (v2) configuration, while the Shadow v1 configuration is in service with Australia and Sweden.

In October, the US Army’s 1st Armored Division (1AD) conducted operational tests of the new RQ–7B Shadow Block III UAS.

The programme included 94 missions, covering more than 400 flight hours, in realistic battlefield conditions across the wide Fort Bliss desert terrain.