Textron Systems Corporation announced the U.S. Army exercised an option valued at up to $76.1 million to provide continued contractor logistics support; field service; maintenance including hardware, spares and repairs; and engineering support for existing Shadow® Tactical Unmanned Aircraft Systems (TUAS). Also scheduled are upgrades of Shadow systems to the significantly improved Block III configuration. The work, to be completed at Textron Systems’ Hunt Valley facility, is scheduled to begin immediately and cover continued support through 2023.
The award is for option year two in a five-year contract awarded December 31, 2020, to modernize the current Shadow RQ-7B Block I and II and lead product support and sustainment activities for the fleet. The Shadow Block III system gives soldiers and commander’s increased situational awareness, improved wide-area target acquisition and high-value target tracking, and enhances manned-unmanned teaming capabilities.
The Shadow Block III system builds on the proven success of previous configurations incorporating design improvements to allow for increased operations in adverse weather conditions, the latest high-definition day-and-night video payload, increased engine power and reliability, reduced acoustic signature and advanced communications relay capabilities. Together, these improvements were significant enough to require their own Follow-on Operational Test & Evaluation determination.
“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,” said Wayne Prender, Senior Vice President of Air Systems. “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.”
To date, Textron Systems has worked with the Army to support 17 new equipment training events across the United States. Textron Systems is the original equipment manufacturer for the Shadow TUAS. The system, which provides reconnaissance, network/communications relay support, and surveillance and target acquisition, has attained more than 1.3 million flight hours, 85 percent of which were flown in combat, and a mission readiness rate exceeding 90 percent.