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In an effort to enhance the situational awareness of its troops, the Portuguese Army has been looking to acquire additional hand-launched unmanned aircraft systems. Portuguese forces have initiated a study researching small fixed wings UAVs to understand what UAV would be the best fit for the forces. The UAVs that are under review weigh less than 15 kilograms, can operate at up to 5,000 feet in the air and have a maximum operating range of 50 kilometers between the operator and the UAV.
The Portuguese Army has also been looking into rotary-wing UAVs that can operate at up to 200 feet above ground level, with a maximum operating range of five kilometers.
The study is expected to be completed by 2020. Janes.com mentions that the study includes UAV market research, UAV performance evaluation, acquisition procedures, and matching quantities and schedules. The Portuguese expect to acquire the UAVs from 2022.
The purchase of the small UAVs is part of a larger plan for the Portuguese Army to acquire small UAVs, UGVs, and Artificial Intelligence technologies.
The small UAVs will be deployed in order to improve the surveillance, intelligence, target acquisition, and reconnaissance capabilities of the Portuguese Army, mainly at the brigade level.
The systems will also be used in lower level echelons as well, such as with squads and platoons.