The US Army has carried out the maiden small uncrewed aircraft system (sUAS) prototype test under the Tranche 2 (T2) short-range reconnaissance (SRR) effort.
This prototype testing was held at Fort Benning, Georgia, US.
The demonstration was executed by the Project Manager Unmanned Aircraft Systems’ (PM UAS) Soldier UAS (SUAS) Product Office in close collaboration with the US Army’s Maneuver Battle Lab and Army Test and Evaluation Command.
The latest test is being conducted as part of the SUAS office’s initiatives to develop a new sUAS platform for the US Army soldiers to provide improved tactical capabilities in the battlefield.
It saw the participation of several vendors including Teal Drones’ Golden Eagle MK2 that was selected last year to compete for this programme.
Other vendors and prototypes include Vantage Robotics’ Swift, and Skydio’s R47 aircraft.
The testing effort assessed the performance and capabilities of each vendors’ system to see if they fulfilled the requirements of the SRR programme based on the service’s Capabilities Production Document.
The test gauged the sUAS’ operational range, flight control, day and night-time obstacle avoidance, and advanced autonomy features.
Initially, the programme included 33 vendors, of which only ten vendors were shortlisted to present their demonstrations at Fort Benning.
It was followed by technical and flight detailing sessions, after which only three vendors were selected for the final rapid prototyping phase.
Once developed, the new next-generation SRR system will replace the US Army’s existing RQ-28A systems, starting from fiscal year 2026.
The RQ-28A, the army’s first programme of record quadcopter, is a vertical take-off and landing aircraft that will allow military forces to perform beyond the line-of-sight missions.