Navy Wants Small Drones That Can See in the Dark

Navy Wants Small Drones That Can See in the Dark image
January 13, 2016 | Source: Mark Pomerleau, Defense Systems

The Navy is looking for a drone similar to the ScanEagle that can operate day or night.

While the Predator and Reaper drones operated by the Air Force steal most of the headlines, there are a significant number of smaller unmanned aircraft that provide important intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance data within various environments around the world. The Navy, which already operates the catapult-launched ScanEagle and Blackjack, is interesting in procuring more tactical small unmanned aerial systems to provide ISR in day and night operations, as well as in adverse environmental conditions. 

The Navy’s solicitation calls for an aircraft with a lightweight design akin to the size and specifications of the ScanEagle, which includes payloads capable of providing real-time full motion video through electro-optical and infrared sensors for maritime and land based operations. 

The systems should be able to reach normal operating altitudes of 3,000-5,000 feet and avoid detection or enemy intervention for transit to and from the operating area, according to the solicitation. The aircraft should also be capable of autonomous or manual launch and recovery with quick deployment, defined as within 24 hours; long range missions, defined as a minimum of 10- to 12-hour flight times; and quick turnaround times between day and night operations.