Sandnes, Norway – Nordic Unmanned has teamed up with Textron Systems Corporation, a Textron Inc. (NYSE: TXT) company, to enter the fixed wing segment of the European drone market. The first commercial opportunity for the team is already targeted, as Nordic Unmanned is competing for a contract with the European Maritime Safety Agency (EMSA) with Textron Systems as its supplier of platform and lifecycle support.
“We’re excited to be collaborating with an industry heavyweight such as Textron Systems, as we now move full speed ahead into the fixed-wing vertical of the drone industry. The fixed-wing drone market vertical is a brand-new untapped opportunity for us, and it fits perfectly into our offering as we today are only offering vertical take-off and landing (VTOL) based solutions,” said Knut Roar Wiig, CEO of Nordic Unmanned.
The EMSA tender process, which is based around the Textron Systems Aerosonde™ unmanned aircraft system (UAS), covers maritime surveillance and coast guard functions, including environmental surveillance, rescue work, border control and vessel surveillance. The total value of the contract is estimated at EUR 20 million over 4 years from Q3 2021. The contract is expected to be awarded to the successful bidder in the second quarter 2021.
A fixed-wing drone has wings, as opposed to vertical lift rotors. Each category has advantages, dependent upon mission. A fixed-wing drone can provide advantages over rotary wing drones by providing considerably increased endurance, increased range, and acoustic advantages. A fixed-wing drone has a dramatically lower CO2 emission and environmental footprint compared to a manned fixed-wing plane conducting a similar mission.
“Our Aerosonde UAS is a field-proven platform with more than 500,000 flight hours, including desert heat and Arctic cold,” said Wayne Prender, Textron Systems’ Senior Vice President, Air Systems. “Pairing our mature, high-performance Aerosonde platform with Nordic Unmanned’s premier support to customers across Europe represents a superior offering for a variety of applications.”
Textron Systems’ Aerosonde UAS has demonstrated its capability in both expeditionary land- and sea-based operations, providing simultaneous day/night full-motion video, communications relay and a customer-selected payload in a single flight. The Aerosonde can also be fitted with additional sensors such as signals intelligence, mapping sensors, or synthetic aperture radar.
“Our ambition is to use the EMSA tender process as a starting point for a broader cooperation with Textron Systems, and we see great opportunities within several areas both on service delivery and system integrations delivery. For instance, the Norwegian Armed Forces have started the first phase of their procurement process for their tactical UAS for land and sea-based operations with a total budget indication of several hundred million NOK. We just answered their request for information (RFI) last week together with Textron Systems, and there are other opportunities within the European market coming up in the short term. We will definitely position ourselves for these processes and are very excited about the commercial traction we are seeing in the market,” said Mr. Wiig.