Soldiers from the 1st Armored Brigade Combat Team, 1st Infantry Division, execute the air vehicle control handoff capabilities with the AeroVironment, Inc's JUMP 20 in a simulated urban environment during the Army's FTUAS capability assessment, at Fort Riley, Kansas. The landing and subsequent takeoff showed the ability of the UAS to take off and land in a confined area without the need for a runway. (Photo by Jonathan Koester)

AeroVironment’s JUMP 20 Drone Selected For Evaluation As US Army RQ-7 Replacement

The United States Army announced on 18 August that it had selected AeroVironment’s JUMP 20 medium unmanned aerial system for Increment 1 of its Future Tactical Unmanned Aircraft System (FTUAS) program, which aims to choose a replacement for the Army’s RQ-7B Shadow tactical unmanned aerial vehicles.

The system, to be procured under a Other Transaction Agreement (OTA) award worth $8 million, is composed of six vertical-takeoff-and-landing Air Vehicles, ground data terminals and ground control stations. The system will be used for testing by a single Army Brigade Combat Team (BCT), with results guiding a future decision by Army leadership on the procurement and fielding of up to seven additional Increment 1 systems. According to the Army, the JUMP 20 met performance requirements while offering high technology and manufacturing readiness levels, reducing the need for additional development.

An AeroVironment JUMP 20 makes a vertical landing at the FTUAS Rodeo that took place March 2-5, 2021. The Rodeo was the capstone event for a yearlong capabilities assessment of four commercial UAV systems conducted by five brigade combat teams. The Army is conducting a “buy, try, inform” approach to rapidly develop informed requirements for an RQ7 Shadow replacement. (U.S. Army Photo by Mr. Luke J. Allen)

“With Increment 1 of the FTUAS program, the Army will be testing and fielding the JUMP 20 on an accelerated schedule as they seek a replacement for the RQ-7B Shadow UAS currently fielded in Brigade Combat Teams,” said Gorik Hossepian, AeroVironment vice president and product line general manager for medium unmanned aerial systems. “The combat-proven JUMP 20 is a rapidly deployable, runway independent, vertical takeoff and landing solution for the Army. Its ability to be deployed, operated and sustained from anywhere is a game-changer in theater and in situations where the enemy has invaded or destroyed infrastructure.”

Increment 1 meets an immediate operational need from Army units for a replacement for the RQ-7B Shadow, leveraging lessons-learned from the year-long FTUAS demonstration and will field readily available mature technologies in response to a Directed Requirement from Army Futures Command. Increment 1 will inform the Doctrine, Organization, Training, materiel, Leadership, Personnel, Facilities, and Policy (DOTmLPF-P) requirements for the FTUAS Increment 2 program.

FTUAS Increment 2 is a separate competitive program continuing independently of but in parallel with the Increment 1 award and testing, with the Aviation and Missile Technology Consortium (AMTC) releasing the FTUAS Increment 2 Request for White Papers on 1 October 2021. The Program Executive Office Aviation FTUAS team is conducting a technical evaluation of the submissions in preparation for the rapid prototyping effort.

Soldiers from 1st Armored Brigade Combat Team, 1st Infantry Division, Fort Riley, Kan. prepare the AeroVironment, Inc, JUMP20 for flight at the FTUAS Rodeo at Leyte West Airfield, Fort Benning, Georgia. (U.S. Army Photo by Mr. Luke J. Allen)

In March 2021, US Special Operations Command selected the JUMP 20 for a competitive task order worth approximately $7 million as part of its Mid-Endurance Unmanned Air Systems (MEUAS) program. MEUAS has AeroVironment and other selected companies compete for “site-specific task orders” from SOCOM for unmanned aerial systems services.