Leonardo DRS on Tuesday said it has invested in tethered drone designer and developer Hoverfly Technologies, a partnership that will bring Leonardo DRS’ capabilities in manufacturing, platform integration and sensor development.
The amount of the investment wasn’t disclosed.
Hoverfly, based in Orlando, Fla., has awarded Leonardo DRS $4 million to manufacture 50 of the company’s LiveSky tethered unmanned aerial systems (TUAS) at its facilities in St. Louis, Mo.
A spokesman for Leonardo DRS told Defense Daily that the company expects future awards for higher numbers of TUAS. He said the initial award doesn’t include the integration of any Leonardo DRS sensors or technology but eventually the company hopes to add its sensors to the TUAS.
Hoverfly’s customers include the Departments of Defense, Homeland Security and Energy, allied defense forces, global industrial companies, and other domestic and international customers.
Tethering a UAS can allow the aircraft to stay aloft longer, providing long-range aerial surveillance and secure, high-bandwidth communications via the tether. The TUAS, which can be mounted at fixed locations or put on vehicles for mobile applications, provides surveillance capabilities for forces at the edge.
The tethered UAS technology is “still in the early stages” but “we think it’s part of the future to be able to extend the battlefield the way the Army’s trying to do and tethered UAVs are a key technology and Hoverfly is at the front of the pack right now in providing that technology, so we can marry it with our sensors and provide the Army with the full product that extends their sightline on the battlefield,” William “Bill” Lynn, CEO of Leonardo DRS, told Defense Daily during an interview on Wednesday.
Hoverfly said that having Leonardo DRS as its production partner means it doesn’t have to scale production internally and instead his company and its customers can rely on “Leonardo DRS’ proven production quality and its exceptional level of experience in integrating complex systems across a wide variety of platforms and mission systems.”
Leonardo DRS is a U.S.-based operating division of Italy’s Leonardo.