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L-3 Communications Acquires Tactical UAV Maker

Tactical UAVs are proving critical in urban combat zones such as Falluja, Iraq.
New York NY (SPX) Jan 06, 2005
L-3 Communications announced Wednesday that it completed the acquisition of BAI Aerosystems, a maker of tactical UAVs for the US Marines. The transaction was completed December 21, 2004, financial terms of the were not disclosed.

Headquartered in Easton, Maryland, BAI designs, manufactures and integrates unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs). BAI targets the small (generally classified as less than 300 pounds) UAV segment and presently offers six primary platforms. The principal tactical uses of BAI's aircraft are by the military for remote imaging applications in surveillance missions.

BAI also offers a complete set of UAV subsystems, such as avionics and auto pilots, imaging and sensor payloads, ground control stations and support equipment, which are incorporated into its proprietary designs as well as sold to other UAV manufacturers. Founded in 1985, BAI has sold over 1,000 UAVs and currently has aircraft deployed in support of U.S. operations in both Iraq and Afghanistan.

"L-3 Communications has an established presence in the UAV marketplace through our participation on the Predator and Global Hawk platforms," said Frank C. Lanza, chairman and chief executive officer of L-3 Communications.

"BAI has developed a family of highly reliable and flexible tactical UAVs and established a terrific working relationship with the special operations groups in the U.S. Army, Navy and Marines.

"As part of our ISR and Secure Communications segment, BAI will provide L-3 with a new capability to test, demonstrate and market its broad array of imaging, sensor and detection systems in the fast growing UAV sector of the defense market, as well as provide additional sales opportunities for our products already serving this market."

Mr. Lanza added that BAI will report into L-3's Integrated Systems subsidiary, which is led by Bob Drewes. TM Capital Corp. served as financial advisor to BAI Aerosystems, Inc. in this transaction.


In other UAV news, the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), has selected BAE Systems as one of three companies to develop a ducted-fan unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) as part of a first phase of its Organic Air Vehicle Class II (OAV II) program. The award of the design and development contract follows a competitive selection process.

The multimillion-dollar contract calls for the development and demonstration of a ducted-fan UAV for operation in diverse missions such as environment reconnaissance and surveillance, path finding for friendly ground vehicles (both robotics and manned), maneuver force protection, and targeting for non-line-of-sight fire operations. At the end of the three-phase program, the OAV-II vehicle should be of sufficient maturity to transition into an Army System Development and Demonstration program to fulfill the Army's requirement for a Class II UAV.

"BAE Systems looks forward to presenting DARPA with a prototype ducted fan air vehicle that meets the needs of the war fighter," said Tom Herring, vice president of Integrated Solutions for BAE Systems Platform Solutions. "This selection also represents an excellent opportunity to grow our presence in the quickly emerging UAV market."

BAE Systems Platform Solutions has a 30-year UAV heritage and is actively developing vertical takeoff and landing (VTOL) UAVs to expand its UAV portfolio. "DARPA's selection complements our existing and proven UAV programs," Herring said. "Our selection by DARPA reflects well on our expanding technology and know-how in this field."

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ScanEagle Demos UAV Comms Relay Utilizing Secure Wireless Network
St. Louis (SPX) Dec 21, 2004
ScanEagle, a long-endurance fully autonomous unmanned aerial vehicle developed by Boeing and The Insitu Group, successfully demonstrated high-speed wireless communications relay during a recent flight at the Boeing Boardman test range.