Army picks small UAVs with sensors and signals intelligence (SIGINT) payloads from Textron AAI for Africa

May 12, 2020
The Aerosonde MK 4.7 is equipped for day and nighttime full-motion video, communications relay, signals intelligence (SIGINT), and reconnaissance.

ABERDEEN PROVING GROUND, Md. – U.S. Army unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) experts needed relatively small unmanned aircraft for use in overseas contingency operations in Africa. They found their solution from Textron AAI Corp. in Hunt Valley, Md.

Officials of the Army Contracting Command at Aberdeen Proving Ground, Md., announced two contracts to Textron AAI on Friday collectively worth $46.4 million for five Aerosonde MK 4.7 small UAVs.

The Aerosonde MK 4.7 is designed for expeditionary land- and sea-based operations and equipped for simultaneous day and nighttime full-motion video, communications relay, signals intelligence (SIGINT), and a sensor payload in one flight.

Related: Northrop Grumman to outfit Navy MQ-4C Triton unmanned aircraft for SIGINT missions in $33.8 million order

These contracts include the unmanned aircraft, spare parts, logistics support, new equipment training, and field service representatives.

The Textron AAI Aerosonde small unmanned aircraft system (SUAS) has a Lycoming EL-005 heavy-fuel engine; and can accommodate multi-intelligence sensors. electronic warfare (EW), and communications payloads.

Three of the UAVs will operate in Nigeria, and two will operate in Uganda in overseas contingency operations, Army officials say.

Related: Northrop Grumman to upgrade and provide cyber security for airborne SIGINT for manned and unmanned aircraft

The Aerosonde MK 4.7 has a 12-foot wingspan; weighs 80 pounds; can accommodate 20-pound payloads; can fly as high as 15,000 feet, as far as 75 miles, and at speeds from 45 to 65 knots. The UAV can fly for eight hours with a 20-pound payload.

The Aerosonde MK 4.7 uses a hydraulic pneumatic launcher and net recover system, and can launch from ground sites or from surface vessels.

On these contracts Textron AAI will do the work in Nigeria and Uganda, and should be finished by September 2022. For more information contact Textron AAI online at, or the Army Contracting Command-Aberdeen Proving Ground at

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