Adding to its existing portfolio of small unmanned aircraft systems (sUAS), FLIR Systems Inc. [FLIR] has acquired Altavian Inc., a developer and manufacturer of small fixed-wing and quadcopter drones.
The acquisition also gives FLIR a spot on the Defense Department’s Blue sUAS program, which was created to provide trusted suppliers of small drones for military and federal agencies to acquire as the federal government turns away from purchasing the ubiquitous commercial drones manufactured by China’s DJI.
Terms of the transaction were not disclosed.
Altavian is based in Gainesville, Fla., and has more than 40 employees. The company manufactures Group 1 UAS, which typically weigh less than 20 pounds.
Altavian’s products include three hand-launched fixed-wing sUAS, the NOVA F7200 and the RQ-11 and RQ-20 platforms. The fixed-wing products are new to FLIR and can perform long-range reconnaissance missions, something the company’s existing sUAS products can’t do, a FLIR spokesman told Defense Daily.
Altavian’s ION M440 quadcopter sUAS was selected for the Blue sUAS program. Four other companies, Parrot, Teal Drones, Skydio and Vantage Robotics, were also selected for the program, which offers the government sUAS through a General Services Administration contract vehicle.
Altavian’s position on the Blue sUAS program “was certainly a factor in our decision” to acquire the company, the spokesman said. “This acquisition opens up new opportunities and provides solutions for customers and markets we haven’t been able to fully serve.”
FLIR, through several acquisitions dating back to 2016, has carved out positions in small UAS and unmanned ground robotic vehicles. In the small UAS space, the company offers the palm-sized Black Hornet nano-UAS, which looks like a miniature helicopter and is used by U.S. and allied militaries.
FLIR has the R70 SkyRanger and R80D SkyRaider sUAS quadcopter platforms that are larger than the ION M440 platform, giving it a complementary portfolio of vertical take-off-and-landing sUAS ranging from the Black Hornet up to the SkyRaider.
In 2019, FLIR acquired the intellectual property and assets of the former Aria Insights, giving it products and capabilities in tethered drones for intelligence, surveillance and communications applications.
The acquisition of Altavian “is another part of our long-term strategy to expand FLIR Systems’ position as a global leader in unmanned systems and positions us for strong growth in the future,” the FLIR spokesman said.
Altavian also has capabilities in ground station engineering and development, including in tactical open government architecture-based systems, complementing FLIR’s capabilities in artificial intelligence, autonomy, and common command and control interfaces, the spokesman said.
Altavian will be integrated into FLIR’s Defense Technologies Segment.
“With the addition of both a low-cost, rapidly deployable quadcopter and longer range fixed-wing UAS, FLIR is strengthening its already impressive drone lineup, including our Black Hornet and SkyRaider platforms used extensively by militaries around the globe,” Roger Wells, general manager of the Unmanned Systems and Integrated Solutions business of FLIR’s Defense Technologies Segment, said in a statement. “We’re excited about the multiple new franchise opportunities FLIR will be able to pursue for defense, public safety, and industrial markets worldwide.”