AeroVironment, Inc. (AV) (NASDAQ:AVAV) will develop and build a hydrogen-powered high altitude, long endurance (HALE) unmanned aerial systems for the US Special Operations Command (USSOCOM). The $57 million contract is calling for ‘development and military utility assessment’ initiates a Joint Capabilities Technology Demonstration (JCTD) sponsored by multiple other government organizations, Multiple government organizations are sponsoring the JCTD program, reflecting broad interest in its potential capabilities for military applications. The contract includes options for the development and delivery of two additional aircraft and one more ground station, resulting in a potential contract value of $108 million. The work is scheduled to conclude by April 2011.
Under the contract AeroVironment will develop and build up to three Global Observer aircraft over the next three years to demonstrate the ability to operate in the stratosphere for up to seven days without landing. The program is intended to demonstrate the tactical utility of a hydrogen-powered for long duration (five to seven day) missions at altitudes from 55,000 to 65,000 feet. A system consisting of two or three aircraft will provide continuous ISR or communications relay over an area of interest.
Tim Conver, chairman and chief executive officer of AV Considers the new platform to introduce a brand new value proposition – affordable persistence in the stratosphere. “We believe thatrepresents a game-changing new capability for defense, homeland security and, ultimately, commercial applications,” commented Conver. “We have developed the unique sub-systems necessary to enable this new category of aircraft.”