The Air Force is soliciting industry input on new lightweight remotely piloted aircraft that its special operators could use for field reconnaissance. The off-the shelf RPA “must operate in day/night and adverse weather as well as denied battlespace,” states the service’s request for information issued last month. The hand-launched RPA must carry a broad, compact array of camera and sensors capable of “detection, classification, identification, precise geo-location, and characterization of objects of interest,” states the document. The Air Force will only consider “mature” systems that have already been developed and tested. The service hopes to identify vehicles that could fill a “capability gap” in existing intelligence-gathering systems. The deadline for industry feedback is May 18, according to the April 23 solicitation.
The U.S. supports “a stronger and more capable” European defense, Defense Secretary Lloyd J. Austin III said during an Oct. 22 press conference in Brussels—but that defense should not duplicate the functions and capabilities of the NATO alliance.