Sierra Nevada Corp. has acquired the assets and intellectual property (IP) of Volansi in an all-cash deal.

Volansi, a Silicon Valley-based drone maker backed by $75 million in venture capital funding, filed for assignment for benefit of creditors (ABC) status

on Aug. 1 with the California Secretary of State’s office (Defense Daily, Sept. 12).

“Volansi was a partner to us at SNC for a series of captures–[the U.S. Army’s] Future Tactical UAS [unmanned aircraft system] being one,” Tim Owings executive vice president of SNC’s mission solutions and technologies business area, told reporters on Oct. 10 at the Association of the United States Army annual conference in Washington, D.C. “But really it builds on our soon to be 60-year legacy of bringing ‘best in breed’ technologies that are really disruptive with direct effect on the warfighter. We have a long history of doing that, whether it’s with electronic warfare systems, large jet aircraft, unmanned systems now–that’s been the legacy of the company.”

SNC had teamed with Volansi for FTUAS with an offering based on Volansi’s Voly 50 series of long-range, 50-pound payload drones (Defense Daily, March 30).

SNC’s acquisition of Volansi assets and IP includes 30 key personnel, including engineers and operations staff, and Volansi’s plant in Bend, Ore.

SNC believes its FTUAS design, using a modular open systems architecture (MOSA), will apply to future U.S. Navy, U.S. Special Operations Command, and United Kingdom programs as well.

Bill Leonard, a senior program director at SNC, said that the platform “was originally designed as a delivery drone so we’re enhancing that to be ISR…for DoD applications.”

“It has a complete modular design so it has ease of assembly, disassembly with standard tools–basically, just a screwdriver–so you can rapidly deploy it,” he said. “We built in redundancy with eight rotors, but also key features, like auto-restart of the engine; its damage tolerance; [and] MOSA.”

Volansi had aimed to build a network of drones, including those for humanitarian and medical delivery purposes.

“What they [Volansi] were focused on and why we got really involved with them was they had been focused on the logistics delivery piece,” Owings said on Oct. 10. “We were handling the defense piece, and so it’s sort of a natural fit for us.”

“For whatever reason, the original [Volansi] investors decided that they did not want to be in that game anymore, primarily because the initial premise had to do with logistical delivery,” he said. “This is a change, but it’s also right in our [SNC’s] sweet spot.”

Owings said that SNC bought Volansi for “significantly less” than recent sales prices for other drone makers.

In one such example, Ondas Holdings, Inc. [ONDS] paid $15.2 million in stock to buy Israeli drone company, Airobotics Ltd., in August.

SNC said that it will fulfill Volansi’s current contracts with Merck [MRK] and other companies.

Volansi had partnered with Merck for the drone delivery of climate-controlled vaccines, such as those against rubella, mumps, and measles, in rural North Carolina.

Volansi was founded in 2015 in response to inventory and supply chain problems at Tesla [TSLA].

In March last year, Volansi said that former U.S. Air Force acquisition chief, Will Roper, would join Volansi’s board of directors and that he would aid the company with its strategy, operations, and growth in the defense market (Defense Daily, March 4, 2021).

“Volansi is exactly the kind of company I was hoping would come work in the Air Force,” Roper said then in a joint appearance with Hannan Parvizian, Volansi CEO and co-founder. “[They have] huge potential to change the world in a big way.”

In July last year, Volansi made Roper its CEO, and Parvizian moved to the position of the company’s chief technology officer.

Roper was the CEO of Volansi at least until the end of last year, but Parvizian was the CEO again when the company announced its Voly 50 in March.

As part of Volansi’s international efforts, Roper worked with former NBA star and Congo-native Dikembe Mutombo to try to gain a foothold in Congo for Volansi drones.

Last Nov. 1, Roper and Mutombo met with Julien Paluku Kahongya, the Democratic Republic of the Congo’s minister of industry, to discuss the use of Volansi drones for medical and election ballot delivery in rural areas. Mutombo said that he wanted to help establish assembly plants for Volansi drones in Kinshasa.