Future Trends

Army Greenlights Competitive Prototyping Phase for FTUAS Program

FTUAS competition

Army Greenlights Competitive Prototyping Phase for FTUAS Program

The Army has released an abbreviated capabilities development document endorsing the start of the competitive prototyping phase for the new Future Tactical Unmanned Aerial System.

The FTUAS competition was launched to replace the aging Textron-made Shadow unmanned aircraft system.

Four tactical drones have been shortlisted as potential Shadow UAS replacements: the Martin V-BAT, the Arcturus Jump 20, the L3Harris FVR-90 and the Textron Aerosonde HQ, Defense News reported.

The contenders demonstrated the ability of their aircraft to operate amid rainy weather conditions—a feat not associated with Shadow—during a series of field tests at Fort Benning that concluded in early March.

Previous demos also showcased the drones’ ability to take off horizontally, which was unachievable with the runway-dependent Shadow UAS. Among other things, the drones were able to set up and fly in one-third the time it would take to set up the legacy aircraft.

In a statement, Maj. Gen. Wally Rugen, director of the Army’s Future Vertical Lift Cross Functional Team, expressed optimism that the winning FTUAS would be revolutionary rather than evolutionary. He is hoping to field a new capability with a lower acoustic signature and one that can be easily transported.

The Army is scheduled to begin the competitive prototyping phase in the fourth quarter of fiscal year 2022. According to the service’s FY2022 budget justification documents, $12 million have been allocated for the competitive prototyping and integration effort.

Officials are then expected to make a rapid fielding decision in the second quarter of FY2025 to be followed by a full-rate production decision in the fourth quarter.

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Tags: Defense News FTUAS Future Tactical Unmanned Aircraft System Future Trends Shadow tactical drone unmanned aircraft system US Army Wally Rugen