PteroDynamics has received a contract to deliver three vertical take-off and landing (VTOL) prototypes for the US Navy’s Blue Water Maritime Logistics UAS (BWUAS) programme.

The contract has been awarded by the Naval Air Warfare Center Aircraft Division (NAWCAD).

PteroDynamics CEO Matthew Graczyk said: “We are honoured to be selected for this important project. This contract is the start of an important partnership, and we look forward to delivering the prototypes to NAWCAD.”

The development of the prototypes follows a requirement identified by the Military Sealift Command (MSC) and Fleet Forces Command (FFC) in 2018.

According to the two commands, the US Navy required an uncrewed, autonomous aircraft capability to deliver cargo to and from ships at sea.

The service currently uses helicopters and V-22 aircraft to deliver critical repair cargo at sea. However, 90% of the cargo weighs less than 50lb.

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Based on this analysis, it was found that a VTOL uncrewed system can address this gap while freeing up crewed aircraft to execute other priority missions.

The Blue Water Maritime Logistics UAS is an air vehicle currently being evaluated by NAWCAD engineers, testers and military test pilots. It was selected from more than 65 UAS platforms following a demonstration in 2019.

PteroDynamics founder and CTO Val Petrov said that the company’s VTOL design fits best for operations on ships where complex weather conditions challenge other VTOL jets during take-offs and landings.

Blue Water project lead Bill Macchione said: “Using unmanned, autonomous aircraft for delivery of these critical payloads is an important capability for the navy to have.

“The innovative design of PteroDynamics offers significant potential for both military and civilian missions.”

Last November, the US Navy said it was assessing the feasibility of using UAS for transporting cargo between two vessels or from a ship to shore.