MONROVIA, Calif., 11 June 2009. – AeroVironment, Inc. (AV) announced that U.S. government agencies funding the Global Observer Joint Capability Technology Demonstration (JCTD) program have exercised an option for the assembly of a third Global Observer unmanned aircraft system (UAS) and additional items. There have been six contract options exercised since the program was initiated, resulting in a cumulative value of more than $120 million in program funding.
"Global Observer is an entirely new solution designed to deliver affordable persistence for intelligence, surveillance, reconnaissance and communications through a high altitude unmanned aircraft system with a flight duration of up to one week," says Tim Conver, AV chief executive officer. "This and previous option exercises represent continued conviction regarding the value that Global Observer will provide and validation of the effectiveness of our joint AV, supplier and customer team in developing this important new solution."
Each completed Global Observer aircraft will take off from and land on a runway, and will have a payload capacity of approximately 400 pounds. A system consisting of two or more Global Observer aircraft flying sequentially would provide seamless, persistent intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR) and communications relay over any area of interest around the globe in a manner that is expected to be much more cost effective and flexible than existing alternatives.
The order for the third aircraft comes at the midpoint of the JCTD and follows a series of milestones in design, development and testing of the Global Observer system, including the successful Preliminary Design Review and Critical Design Review. The initial $57 million contract for a three-year development program was awarded to AV in September, 2007. Six government organizations are funding the JCTD program, reflecting broad interest in its capabilities for potential military and civil applications. The JCTD is intended to demonstrate the tactical utility of a hydrogen-powered UAS for long duration missions – as long as seven days – at altitudes from 55,000 to 65,000 feet.
To date AV has received contract option exercises for the development, fabrication and testing of three aircraft, two launch and recovery elements, Systems Integration Laboratory testing and other development items. Operation of the advanced hydrogen-fueled power generation system at simulated atmospheric conditions in an altitude chamber continues after previous successful, multi-day tests.