US Navy plans to buy 120 submarine-launched Blackwing UAVs

March 10, 2021

The US Navy (USN) plans to acquire up to 120 AeroVironment Blackwing unmanned air vehicles (UAVs) for its submarines.

The first drone is expected to be delivered as early as August 2021, says the service in a sole source notice it posted online on 9 March. The last UAV is scheduled to be delivered by May 2023. The Blackwing can be launched into the air via a submerged submarine. The UAV is packed into a canister that is ejected from an underwater submarine, the canister then floats to the surface and shoots the Blackwing into the air.

In order to fit inside a canister, the small UAV has two pop-out wing sets. It has a wingspan of 68.6cm (27in) and is powered by an electric motor-driven pusher propeller. On its nose, the UAV carries electro-optical and infrared sensors. It also carries GPS and inertial navigation systems. Those sensors combined with a tactical data link allow the UAV to pass back targeting information to a submarine.

In order to fit inside a canister, the small UAV has two pop-out wing sets. It has a wingspan of 68.6cm (27in) and is powered by an electric motor-driven pusher propeller. On its nose, the UAV carries electro-optical and infrared sensors. It also carries GPS and inertial navigation systems. Those sensors combined with a tactical data link allow the UAV to pass back targeting information to a submarine.

The service has been experimenting with the Blackwing for several years. After several demonstrations in 2019 and 2020, initial operational capability for the Blackwing was declared in September, said Rear Admiral Dave Goggins, programme executive officer for submarines, reported Seapower magazine last November. The USN has demonstrated launching the Blackwing from the Los Angeles-class fast-attack submarine USS Annapolis, he said.

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About AeroVironment, Inc. (AV)

AeroVironment (NASDAQ: AVAV) provides technology solutions at the intersection of robotics, sensors, software analytics and connectivity that deliver more actionable intelligence so you can Proceed with Certainty. Headquartered in Virginia, AeroVironment is a global leader in intelligent, multi-domain robotic systems and serves defense, government and commercial customers. For more information, visit www.avinc.com.


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