Textron Systems Receives Contract to Build 36 New Shadow Block III Unmanned Aircraft for U.S. Army

Textron Systems has received a contract to build 36 Shadow Block III tactical unmanned aircraft for the U.S. Army, the company announced.

The total contract award value is $66 million and includes ongoing engineering services to continue fielding and supporting the new Block III system configuration.

“We are proud to maintain our strong partnership of more than 20 years with the U.S. Army on the Shadow program,” said Senior Vice President David Phillips of Textron Systems. “The Shadow Block III will support the customer with the enhanced capabilities soldiers need to fulfill today’s and tomorrow’s missions.”

The RQ-7B V2 Block III Shadow system builds on the proven success of previous configurations. The upgraded system incorporates design improvements, allowing for increased availability to operate in adverse weather conditions, the latest high-definition day-and-night video payload, increased engine power and reliability with a reduced acoustic signature, enhanced manned-unmanned teaming (MUMT) with the Army’s AH-64 Apache attack helicopters and an advanced communications relay.

According to Textron, the Shadow Block III system is “ready and able to provide aerial support” to its customers, “even in the most challenging of environments”.

AAI RQ-7 Shadow

AAI RQ-7 Shadow is an American unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) developed by AAI Corporation (now part of Textron) for reconnaissance, surveillance, target acquisition and battle damage assessment.

Launched from a trailer-mounted pneumatic catapult, Shadow is recovered with the aid of arresting gear similar to jets on an aircraft carrier. Its gimbal-mounted, digitally stabilized, liquid nitrogen-cooled electro-optical/infrared (EO/IR) camera relays video in real time via a C-band line-of-sight data link to the ground control station (GCS).

The Shadow v1 configuration is in service with Australian Army and Swedish Army and the Shadow v2 configuration is in service with the U.S. Armed Forces and Italian Army. The Shadow v2 block III configuration is expected to enter service in 2021.

The Shadow aircraft fleet has clocked more than 1.2 million flight hours.

Specifications (Shadow v2 Block III)

• Payload : 95 lbs (43 kg)
• Payload Power : Up to 500 watts
• Max Wingspan : 20.4 ft (6.2 m)
• Endurance : 8 hours
• Range : 125 km (line of sight)
• Gross Takeoff Weight : 537 lb (212 kg)
• Ceiling : 18,000 ft (5,486 m)
• Max Takeoff Elevation : 10,500 ft (3,200 m) density altitude
• Landing : Landing Tactical Automatic Landing Systems short-field landing with arresting gear

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