SOCOM places urgent order for Insitu UAVs

Washington DC
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This story is sourced from Flight International
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The US Special Operations Command (SOCOM) has placed an indefinite delivery, indefinite quantity service order with Insitu for medium-endurance unmanned air vehicle operations.

The contract, unveiled on 7 February, places an immediate order, the details of which remain under wraps, including the type of aircraft that will fill the role. Insitu, a subsidiary of Boeing, manufactures the RQ-21 Integrator, which is the most likely candidate. The company also produces the ScanEagle, which is already in use with SOCOM, along with other US and foreign services.

"Due to unforeseen circumstances beyond the government's control, there is an immediate requirement to mitigate a critical ISR [intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance] services gap," reads the sole-source justification. "The contract is for the Mid-Endurance Unmanned Aircraft System (MEUAS) ISR service using contractor-owned and contractor-operated equipment." The 25-month deal has a potential maximum value of $190 million, the Department of Defense says.

Though little is publicly known, one of the current service providers, AAI's Aerosonde, is known to suffer from propulsion problems, which have resulted in the loss of several UAVs. However, AAI says it is now meeting contractual requirements.

SOCOM did not immediately respond to questions, and Insitu referred comment to the command.