There’s been interest among U.S. special operations personnel for some time to field unmanned aircraft. In fact, even though the 160th Special Operations Aviation Regiment (Airborne) still is looking for a tactical or more capable system, other units have already been working with smaller UAVs. And that’s not even talking about the support the U.S. Air Force and Central Intelligence Agency have been providing specialops units.
Nevertheless, U.S. Special Operations Command is now turning to industry to see if they can deliver UAV services, rather than just air vehicles and ground stations. The service would have to be available on a worldwide basis. The mission is for intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance services; armed UAVs may still be a step-too-far for outsourcing.
It’s an interesting development and one wonders if Thales is looking to get into the game. The company has already been working with the U.K. military to provide Hermes-450s on an urgent basis to forces in Iraq and Afghanistan. Thales also isin talks with the French government to do the same as part of the country’s force commitment to Afghanistan. (Click here to read the earlier post on those activities)