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The US Air Force is seeking a small- to medium-sized vertical take-off and landing (VTOL) UAV for missions at Travis Air Force Base in California. The Air Force posted a request for information (RFI) calling for a VTOL UAV “ecosystem” that can support a number of flight and ground operations for the 60th Air Mobility Wing (AMW), and its fleet of Lockheed Martin C-5M Galaxy, Boeing C-17 Globemaster III, and McDonnell-Douglas KC-10A Extender aircraft.
The aerial vehicle that is required is a UAV that can be used day and night for aircraft and airfield inspections; approach lighting and Foreign Object Debris (FOD) sweeps of runways/taxiways/parking areas, etc; building inspections; post-attack reconnaissance sweep after a chemical attack (inspecting colour changes on pre-positioned chemical detection tape); maintenance-part delivery on the flightline; kinetic counter-UAV capability; perimeter patrol; crisis-response ‘eyes-on’ (during an active shooter situation, etc); personnel search and rescue; and commercial drone delivery.
According to janes.com, the RFI also calls for swarm-enabled formations to carry larger objects.
The system should be a small- to medium-sized fixed-wing VTOL platforms weighing 20 lb (9.1 kg) or less; have a range of greater than 10 miles (16.1 km); should be low-cost; feature secure command and control; be survivable and robust; and be equipped with UAV collision avoidance technology.
Ground infrastructure should include, among others: traffic management solutions; identification friend-or-foe (IFF); wireless datalink to enable centralised override control capability to any UAV operating within the base perimeter; centralised dashboard for situational awareness of UAV locations; an ability to push real-time geofencing data updates to UAV operators; and more.