U.S. Special Operations Command (SOCOM) on June 7 announced that Boeing’s [BA] Insitu unmanned systems arm and Textron’s [TXT] AAI Corp. both share in a multiple-award contract for providing unmanned aircraft services to forces around the globe through 2022.

Both companies were awarded contracts that initially pay out $150,000 in fiscal 2017 funding. The contracts include a 54-month base performance period followed by four year-long ordering periods and a final six-month order period. The total scope of mid-endurance unmanned aircraft systems (MEUAS) services is worth $475 million.

The ScanEagle is a catapult launched UAV. Photo: Boeing.
The ScanEagle is a catapult launched UAV. Photo: Boeing.

The MEUAS III multiple-award contract is structured so that AAI and Insitu will compete for task orders for intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR) services through June 2022.

AAI in 2012 took the MEUAS II contract from Boeing’s Insitu, which was providing SOCOM with ISR services with the Insitu ScanEagle. That contract was worth $600 million for three base order years and options. Under that contract, AAI is currently providing ISR with its Aerosonde small UAS.

Insitu offers several UAS platforms in the Group 2-3 range that could meet SOCOM mid-range ISR requirements. It still manufactures the ScanEagle. It also offers a modular, multi-mission platform suitable for both land and maritime applications called the Integrator. Both platforms use the same trailer-mounted launcher and can be recovered using the SkyHook system.

Insitu also manufactures the slightly larger RQ-21 Blackjack in use by the Navy and Marine Corps for expeditionary land and maritime surveillance.

AAI produces both the Aerosonde small UAS and the RQ-7 Shadow Group 3 drone, which is in use by the Army and Marine Corps.

In a similar move to the MEUAS contract award, the Army in April tapped AAI, AASKI Technology and Leidos [LDOS] to share in a five-year, $900 million contract to provide technical services and field support for tactical unmanned aircraft systems.