Marines Buy Tiny Wasp UAVs

The Marine Corps is spending $12 million on a new batch of AeroVironment Wasp AE small unmanned aircraft systems.

Naval Air Systems Command’s Program Office for Navy & Marine Corps Small Tactical Unmanned Aircraft Systems, working collaboratively with the United States Army’s Counter-IED Program Office, awarded a contract on Sept. 21 for the Wasp systems, initial spares packages, training services, and one year of contractor logistics support, AeroVironment announced Jan. 23.

The Naval Air Systems Command worked with the Army team to award the contract to PAR Government Systems Corporation, which in turn secured the systems and services from AeroVironment for a total value of $12,032,430. Delivery was scheduled to occur within four months of contract award.

Weighing 2.8 pounds, the Wasp AE air vehicle is designed for ground and water landing, making it suitable for both land and maritime missions, and is capable of 20 percent greater flight duration than the Wasp III.

“We introduced the Wasp AE in May of 2012 with the expectation that multiple customers would find its capabilities very compelling,” Roy Minson, AeroVironment senior vice president and general manager of its Unmanned Aircraft Systems business segment, said in a press release.

“These contracts supporting the United States Marine Corps expand the adoption of Wasp AE beyond the Air Force, and support our view that this highly capable successor to the proven Wasp III system will help our customers operate more safely and effectively.”

The Wasp AE incorporates the smallest of AeroVironment’s Mantis suite of miniature gimbaled payloads, giving operators both color and infrared video imagery from a single sensor package, AeroVironment officials maintain.

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