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Textron to Extend Support for US Army Shadow Drone Fleet

The US Army has exercised a $76.1-million option to provide extended support for its Shadow tactical aerial drones.

Under the agreement, Shadow developer Textron Systems will continue to supply maintenance, logistics, and field services for the fleet through 2023.

The effort is being coordinated with the Shadow systems’ ongoing transition to the Block III configuration, providing the drone with an upgraded engine, power, mission processing computer, sensor payload, and communications.

Related work will be performed at Textron’s Hunt Valley, Maryland facility.

The contract option builds on a 2020 award to modernize the Shadow RQ-7B Block I and II fleets.

Sustaining Drone Fleet Readiness

According to Textron, program advancement resulted in improvements that prepared the drone for further modernization.

“The Block III Shadow system is built on soldier feedback. Improvements like quieter engines, improved weatherization and increased standoff range allow operators to employ the system in new and innovative ways,” Textron Air Systems Senior Vice President Wayne Prender stated.

“Because Combat Aviation Brigades and special forces units will use Shadow systems through 2036, modernization of the fleet supports readiness of already-fielded systems for up to 15 more years.”

The Shadow tactical unmanned aircraft system. Photo: Textron Systems

The Shadow is employed for reconnaissance, surveillance, target acquisition, and communications support with various militaries.

The drone has achieved over 1.3 million flight hours, around 85 percent being flown in tactical operations with a mission readiness rate exceeding 90 percent.

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