The Pentagon last Friday announced seven new actions through Defense Production Act Title III to sustain and strengthen essential domestic industrial base capabilities in the small unmanned aircraft systems (sUAS), space technology and shipbuilding industries, totaling $84.8 million, as part of the national response to COVID-19.

Five awards were given to developers of sUAS and related technologies, totaling $13.4 million.

  • AirMap, Santa Monica, Calif., a provider of mission planning, analysis and unmanned traffic management software, received $3.3 million. AirMap recently laid off close to 20 percent of its workforce and the company’s main office was broken into and burned during protests last month.
  • ModalAI, San Diego, a developer of flight controllers that include advanced autonomy, GPS-denied navigation and obstacle avoidance, received $3 million.
  • Skydio, Redwood City, Calif., a developer of commercial and military sUAS with advanced autonomy and obstacle avoidance capabilities, received $4 million to improve their flight controller hardware/software and data link.
  • Graffiti Enterprises, Somerset, N.J., received $1.5 million to modify their commercial data link for DoD’s sUAS use including operation in restricted frequency bands and to make SWaP improvements.
  • Obsidian Sensors, San Diego, received $1.6M to build a low-cost, dual thermal sUAS camera that can be mounted onto a stabilization gimbal and then integrated and flown on small, packable, ISR systems.

Across the five companies, these actions saved 14 jobs, created 20 new positions, and will support continued advancement of capabilities providing the companies additional paths for recurring revenue, according to the Pentagon.

The department also entered into a $15 million agreement with LeoLabs, Inc., a four-year old company that provides tracking, collision avoidance, and space domain awareness services for its customers. The Pentagon announcement said its investment will ensure the continuity of the company’s services through its phased-array radar network, highlighting that it is the only U.S.-based commercial supplier of these capabilities.

Based in Silicon Valley, LeoLabs is a venture-backed spin-out of SRI International.

The largest investment is $56 million provided to help the Coatesville, Pa., steel plate-making operations of ArcelorMittal. The plates are used in a number of industrial applications, including shipbuilding and the DoD said the funding will expand the company’s plate processing footprint and heat-treating capability to enable an increase in production so that the government in support of U.S. Navy needs.

ArcelorMittal’s U.S. operations are headquartered in Chicago and the corporate headquarters are based in Luxembourg.

Funding for the Defense Production Act Title III investments was authorized and appropriated through the CARES Act.