Customs and Border Protection (CBP) this week issued a general solicitation under a streamlined procurement mechanism for a commercial small unmanned aircraft system (UAS) that can take-off and land vertically and fly like a fixed-wing aircraft.
The agency is seeking solution briefs through its Commercial Solutions Opening Pilot (CSOP) program that is outside the traditional Federal Acquisition Regulation, opening the competition to a potentially larger pool of entrants and leading to a faster award.
CBP last August issued a Request for Information for the Hybrid-sUAS, which it said would offer its Border Patrol agents the ability to extend missions beyond existing vertical take-off and landing (VTOL) drones while avoiding potential airframe damage caused by landing fixed-wing aircraft.
“Recent advancements in hybrid-lift small Unmanned Aircraft Systems, that incorporate vertical controlled takeoff and landings with transitional flight features and other innovative capabilities, have the ability to significantly enhance CBP operations and its ability to meet its mission needs,” the agency said in an Aug. 4 general solicitation on the federal government’s business opportunity website beta.sam.gov. “The associated technologies may offer the ability to address surveillance and communications gaps across multiple missions and environments by providing the required elevation and geographic range to clear line of sight obstacles.”
An attachment included with the solicitation said the Border Patrol wants a “highly mobile medium range surveillance asset with medium geographic reach” and that can operate in land or littoral environments. The agency wants the systems to be able to detect, track and identity items of interest at night and day manually with the objective of being able to do so autonomously.
The Border Patrol has previously purchased small drones for missions and evaluations, including the Lockheed Martin [LMT] Indago 3 and FLIR Systems [FLIR] Skyraider quadcopter VTOL systems, and the AeroVironment [AVAV] Puma 3 fixed-wing aircraft.