Mountain View, CA–The Defense Innovation Unit (DIU) has partnered with the Office of the Under Secretary of Defense for Acquisition & Sustainment (OUSD A&S) and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers on a project called Blue sUAS 2.0 which focuses on reducing administrative barriers for onboarding policy compliant, commercial small unmanned aircraft systems (sUAS) into the Department of Defense (DoD). DIU has issued 11 agreements with non-traditional vendors to participate in this pilot program to prototype a new approval process while significantly increasing the variety of capabilities available to all branches of the U.S. military.
“We have only begun to scratch the surface of demand for sUAS across DoD so enabling our warfighters to more easily use drones is critical to broader adoption across the force,” Michael Brown, director, Defense Innovation Unit.
September 8, 2021 guidance signed by the Deputy Secretary of Defense established a policy that allows all Services to more efficiently access the technological advancements of the commercial sUAS market.
This Blue UAS project follows up on the successful partnership between the U.S. Army and DIU on the Short Range Reconnaissance (SRR) program for sUAS, which started in 2019. During the effort, Program Executive Office Aviation and the Soldier Unmanned Aircraft Systems Product Office were instrumental in developing a more affordable military-hardened, rucksack portable, vertical take-off and landing (VTOL) small unmanned aircraft, providing the platoon with a rapidly deployable sUAS for situational awareness beyond the next terrain feature.
DIU’s initial Blue sUAS project, now referred to as “1.0,” was announced in August 2020. Blue sUAS 1.0 made minor modifications to the final five SRR candidate air vehicles and built integrated commercially-based ground control stations to create a standalone commercial/enterprise configuration available to all of DoD as well as other U.S. Government entities.
All five systems–Teal Golden Eagle, Vantage Vesper, Teledyne/FLIR Ion M440, Skydio X2D, Parrot Anafi USA– were listed on GSA as the only federally vetted and approved systems available for procurement. The companies have since seen defense, enterprise and law enforcement sales.
The need for additional capabilities in sUAS that are policy-compliant and cost-effective was a large driving force behind Blue sUAS 2.0.
The project will increase the diversity, capability, and affordability of sUAS on DIU’s “Blue UAS Cleared List.” This expansion includes capabilities requested by the DoD and its federal partners including infrastructure inspection, mapping, carrying secondary payloads, and more traditional reconnaissance tasks. These systems will undergo cyber-security evaluations, policy compliance checks, and be issued the necessary approval documents required for any DoD user to procure.
The Blue sUAS 2.0 vendors are:
- Ascent AeroSystems
- BlueHalo LLC
- Easy Aerial Inc.
- FlightWave Aerospace Systems Corporation
- Freefly Systems East
- Harris Aerial
- Inspired Flight Technologies Inc.
- senseFly Inc
- Skydio, Inc.
- Vision Aerial
- Wingtra AG
For more information about Blue sUAS options visit https://www.diu.mil/autonomy-blue-suas