The United States Army has approved replacing the aging unmanned aircraft system Shadow and endorsed a tactical drone challenge to find its successor, Defense News reported.
Since 2020, the US Army has evaluated several new and improved capabilities that can replace the Shadow, ending with a review of potential replacements at Fort Benning, Georgia.
The selected units were faster from setup to flight, most only one-third that of the Shadow. Additional capabilities included autonomous take-off and landing, as well as being able to fly in harsh weather.
The drones being considered to replace the Shadow include the V-Bat UAS by Martin UAV, the Aerosonde HQ by Textron (manufacturer of the Shadow series), the Jump 20 system by Arcturus-UAV, and the FVR-90 from L3Harris.
The army is expected to proceed to the competitive prototyping phase of the project by Q4 of fiscal 2022, with production expected by Q4 of 2025.
The Shadow UAV
The Shadow is a runway-dependent UAV system developed and manufactured by Textron Systems. The company describes it as “the most reliable and capable tactical UAS to help you accomplish your missions.”
It runs on an all-digital system optimized for multi-mission, single-sortie profiles, and manned/unmanned teaming.
In 2020, the US Army completed operational testing of the RQ–7B Shadow Block III system, the latest in the Shadow series. Testing for it included 94 missions and over 400 flight hours under realistic battlefield conditions.