New US UAS Player Explains Evolution
CP Aeronautics was to have unveiled its ORBITER 4 STUAS to the US defence market at this week’s cancelled AUSA Global Force exhibition. Brad Pilsl, Vice President of Business Development, provided exclusive insights to MON on its rapidly evolving activities.
San Diego, California-based CP Technologies has established CP Aeronautics to provide American-built, integrated, turnkey solutions-based UAS platforms, payloads, data links, ground control stations and communications for defence and civil applications. While CP Technologies is a 100% US-owned and independently-operated small business, ultimate ownership is at Israel’s Aeronautics Systems, Ltd.
Aeronautics’ ORBITER 4 STUAS “is an established, proven combat aircraft in Israel and with other customers worldwide, and we are offering it for sale and/or lease in the US now for the first time. It has supported US forces overseas along with other US allies and friends overseas I am not at liberty to name,” Pilsl explained, noting CP Aeronautics’ customer base is the US and Canada, with the parent company continuing to focus on supplying systems and content to the rest of the world.
The roadmap of ORBITER 4 activities to establish a presence in the US market includes the development, assembly and flight-testing of the air system and maturation of related services in 2020, stepping up to the manufacturing phase in 2021.
Agreeing with MON’s observation that the introduction of ORBITER 4 is being made in a crowded US STUAS market-space, Pilsl added, “There’s a great turning point now, when some of the US systems are looking to be replaced by the US services. The ORBITER 4, in particular, offers 24-25 hours of flight time, multi-payloads, and it can operate ship-to-shore and shore-to-ship, and obviously on land-based missions – being runway independent.” Asked for discriminators that will set ORBITER 4 apart from the competition, he commented “We have a pretty small operator and logistics footprint, which is of huge value. We look at the overall system life-cycle cost and system operational cost, and can say, you will get a lot more capability fielded than you would with some of the other traditional US market suppliers. And these aircraft have operated in some of the toughest,contested environments in the world – electronic warfare, GPS-denied environments, for example. These are not experimental, prototype or even COTS aircraft.”
Although pricing remains confidential, Pilsl noted the company has solutions-based pricing, and when compared to similar capability, “I think it is going to very, very exciting for the US market. We think we are very well positioned to enter the market at this time.”
CP Aeronautics’ envisioned customer focus is initially on the contractor-owned, contractor-operated ISR market. It will then pursue other opportunities for system sale and/or lease, or service offerings, to the whole of government (federal, state and local) and certain approved commercial customers – public utilities, for instance. The company expects soon to begin working with the FAA to obtain appropriate flight certifications and authorizations to operate in national airspace.
Pilsl also noted the company “is offering a turnkey solution, an end-to-end UAS system – the air vehicle, payload, datalink, GCS and others, as well as training and other logistics needs, the integrated logistics solution.” CP Aeronautics is also “100% open to add new partner payload capability, US content, that is part of our business model. We’re already talking to unnamed major primes to host their equipment on the OBITER 4 within the US market.”
CP Aeronautics is also is in discussion with unspecified US defence customers on testing and evaluation opportunities with ORBITER 4. The company expects to have an operational ORBITER 4 available later this summer to start supporting these early DoD acquisition milestones.