ROBOTICS AND AUTONOMOUS SYSTEMS
Textron Secures First Foreign Military Sale for Aerosonde Drone
Photo: Textron Systems
Textron Systems’ Aerosonde unmanned aerial vehicle will soon be in the hands of the Bulgarian military after the country purchased the system through a foreign military sale, according to a company executive.
The $9.4 million contract will include multiple air vehicles, control systems and a training package, said David Phillips, the company’s vice president of small- and medium-endurance unmanned aerial systems.
“Within a calendar year they will be operating their system,” he said in an October interview. “The delivery will have taken place, the training will have taken place, their systems will be in country.”
The platform will be used to provide intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance data for border security missions. Bulgaria is interested in payloads such as electro-optical/infrared cameras and communication relay, he added.
Aerosonde is well suited for the typography of the country, he noted.
“Their ability to launch and recover from sea-level altitude as well as mountainous or hilly altitudes, and the fact that it is runway independent … really says that they can take it anywhere,” he said.
“They don’t have to worry about an airstrip … [and] they don’t have to worry about having to clear a landing area for it.”
The UAV can also stream live video to Textron-built military vehicles that were previously sold to Bulgaria, Phillips noted.
“Their ground vehicles are already outfitted with systems that enable our payload to come directly into their ground vehicles,” he said. “That makes Aerosonde uniquely advantageous to the Bulgarians.”
The company delivered seven M1117 armored security vehicles to Bulgaria in 2008 via a direct commercial sale. It also delivered 10 mobile strike force vehicles in 2014 through a foreign military sale, according to a company spokeswoman.
The Aerosonde FMS sale — which was facilitated through the Army — is a first for the unmanned aerial vehicle, though Textron already has an undisclosed international customer for the system that was previously brokered through a direct commercial sale. Phillips said this first FMS contract could portend more in the future.
This is “the first of hopefully many,” he said. “We’re in a good place to be able to go provide this capability, this product, to anybody that is interested.”