Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI) on Tuesday signed a strategic collaboration agreement with Sierra Nevada Corporation (SNC) to support development of a new tactical Vertical Takeoff and Landing (VTOL) Unmanned Aircraft System (UAS) for the US market.
The two companies say they see great potential in this collaboration for special mission applications in the American tactical UAS market over the next decade, as the increased use of unmanned aircraft continues to enhance the operational flexibility, safety and effectiveness of US military air operations.
“IAI is excited to sign the strategic agreement with SNC, with whom we have been working successfully for a number of years now,” said Shaul Shahar, executive vice president and general manager of IAI’s Military Aircraft Group. “I am confident that SNC’s leading engineering expertise and strong US foothold combined with IAI’s experience and leadership with unmanned systems, including VTOL, will create a high-quality American system to meet the market’s growing needs.”
“SNC looks forward to a bright future in the unmanned systems sector with the signing of this strategic agreement with IAI,” said Tim Owings, executive vice president of SNC’s Integrated Mission Systems business area. “We are pleased to have IAI’s strong past performance and exciting new products like VTOL UAS as the foundation of this mutually beneficial relationship between the two companies.”
The VTOL UAS will give forward-positioned units the ability to deploy expeditionary wide-area UAS Intelligence, Surveillance Reconnaissance (ISR) assets in austere environments without requiring access to a runway, while providing increased safety and reduced risk throughout the range of operations and mission locations.
The agreement builds on a five-year relationship between the two companies, combining SNC’s experience developing and testing customizable UAS in various launch conditions and environments with IAI’s vast expertise and capabilities to create an innovative VTOL solution for the tactical UAS market.
The two companies’ press release suggested “SNC‘s experience executing large-scale system integration programs for the US Government and its leading in-house engineering capabilities, along with IAI’s world-renowned unmanned systems will result in a product that will be manufactured, operated and maintained in the United States.
“As the prime contractor, SNC will be responsible for the overall system integration and leading the US marketing effort in support of direct sales and long-term lease opportunities. This partnership is aligned with US policy and is expected to generate new jobs in Mississippi and Alabama as part of the expanding UAS program.”