Article was originally published in the Politico Defense Newsletter on January 5th, 2021

Influence & Industry
DRONE WARS: Silicon Valley-based startup Volansi has joined forces with Sierra Nevada Corp. to bid on the Army’s RQ-7 drone replacement program.

The team will offer a drone based on Volansi’s M20 tech demonstrator, but it will be larger and equipped to perform cargo and intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance missions, John Steen, sales and business development director of defense solutions at Volansi, tells Lee.

The players: Other likely entrants are the Arcturus Jump 20, L3Harris FVR-90, Shield AI V-Bat and Textron Aerosonde HQ.

The background: Volansi has contracts with the Defense Innovation Unit and the Air Force Research Laboratory. When Volansi CEO Will Roper was the Air Force acquisition chief, he advocated for startups to join forces with larger defense companies.

What’s next: The Army plans to select a winner in the competition in the next few months to deliver an initial eight systems in fiscal 2024. A follow-on contract for the second increment will replace the rest of the RQ-7 fleet starting in fiscal 2025.

More industry news: What top defense industry experts are watching in 2022, via Lee.

Also: AUKUS deal could be a boon for U.S. defense industry beyond submarines, via Lee.