The US Army has selected European drone group Parrot to develop and prototype the next generation of a small-unit surveillance drone.

A solicitation was issued in November for companies to take part in the short-range reconnaissance (SRR) effort. The army partnered with the Defense Innovation Unit (DIU) to identify and prototype new drone capabilities with commercial companies.

The army has selected a total of six companies, including Parrot, for the SSR project and awarded them $11m in funding to prototype and evaluate drones.

The service intends to adapt small commercial drones for the battlefield.

Drones should be able to provide a rapidly deployable scouting capability to soldiers to gain situational awareness ‘beyond the next terrain feature’.

Under the requirements specified in the solicitation, the contract awardees are required to develop drones that can fly for at least 30 minutes, have a 3km range and weigh less than 3lb.

In addition, the aircraft should take less than two minutes to assemble and fit inside a rucksack.

Parrot founder and CEO Henri Seydoux said: “The United States has always been a major market for the Parrot Group whether it is for our well-known consumer range or our advanced professional offering.

“We also perfectly understand how small unmanned aircraft such as the Parrot ANAFI platform has the potential to become a key part of the defence system. We look forward to focusing our advanced R&D on meeting the high standards set by the US Army, to integrate drone efficiency in their day to day operations and support the world-leading army defence system.”

The US Army also seeks the development of an aircraft that can complete 25 operationally relevant missions with minimal operator level maintenance, reported Jane’s in November.