L3 subsidiary Geneva Aerospace was awarded a $6 million contract by US Special Operations Command, for the development and production of the Expeditionary Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (EUAS) system. The classified program is expected to provide US Special Operations Command (SOCOM) with integral surveillance and reconnaissance capability. The potential value to Geneva, over five years, could become $250 million. Geneva is expected to have the first systems available for testing within months. For example, the Mobius optionally piloted UAV developed with company finding has reached maturity and is expected to be available for operational service in October.
The system selected by SOCOM is the Viking 400, a 320 pounds (145 kg) unmanned aircraft, with payload capability of 75-100 pounds (34-45 kg). Payloads can include daylight and infrared Electro-Optical sensors, LIght Detection And Ranging (LIDAR), and electronic Signals Intelligence (SIGINT) and Chemical/ Biological/ Radiological/ Nuclear (CBRN) sensors. Viking 400 can operate within line of sight, at ranges beyond 70 nautical miles (130 km) at a speed of 60-90 knots (111-167 km/h).
Earlier this year the company was awarded a development contract by the U.S. Air Force. Geneva Aerospace is one of five companies to demonstrate such small UAV technologies. The ‘Cutlass’ is designed as an expandable, 15 pound tube-launched ‘Small Unmanned Aerial System Research & Evaluation’ (SURE). The system will be small enough to be launched from a plane or another UAV and could be ready for production by 2011. According to Geneva, Cutlass could be deployed from airborne or ground based, 120 and 150 mm launch tubes mounted on vehicles, or surface vessels. After deployment it will extract its wings and fly an autonomous mission, controlled and monitored by an operator, seated inside the ‘mothership’. The Cutlass comes with an integral, lightweight gimbaled camera system and can also carry a targeting payload or warhead. It has a maximum air speed of 85 knots and a cruising speed of 55 to 65 knots. The unit cost is estimated at $20,000.
Earlier this year L3’s Geneva Aerospace also unveiled the Mobius – an optionally piloted UAV designed for long endurance, high altitude and high speed missions. The Mobius performed an aerial display at the AUVSI 2009 demonstration, including an overflight and landing at the naval base. Immediately after landing, the manned aircraft was converted into an unmanned aircraft, by replacing the canopy with low-profile fairing and switching the control system for autonomous mode, operated under computer control or via remote command link.