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26 Mar 03. DRS Technologies, Inc. (NYSE: DRS – News) has received new orders to produce Neptune(TM) Maritime Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (MUAVs) for the U.S. Navy.

The Neptune(TM) MUAV, which can be launched from small surface vessels or from land, was specifically designed to assist tactical military operations and civil applications where developed runways are unavailable. It can be quickly deployed and recovered on land or in water for day or night special operations.

For these contracts with a combined value of $5m, DRS will produce several Neptune(TM) Maritime UAV systems, each consisting of three aerial vehicles, an operator station, a remote video terminal, two camera payloads including one colour camera and one thermal imager, a launcher/transport container and field support kits. Designed for ease of assembly, the MUAVs have been optimized with near autonomous operation, and advanced autopilot and payload management features. Work for these awards will be performed by the company’s DRS Unmanned Technologies unit in Mineral Wells, Texas. Product deliveries are expected to be completed this spring.

“As our forces continue to utilize unmanned aerial surveillance for advanced military operations, DRS stands to benefit from its more than 10 years of technical and operational experience in UAVs,” said Paul G. Casner, chief operating officer of DRS Technologies. “The integration of UAV platforms with DRS’s core technologies, including computer display systems, electro-optical and infrared sensors and targeting systems, high-speed digital cameras, data recording, communications and other intelligence gathering equipment, is expected to enhance the capabilities and expand the missions of our UAV systems. These new contracts provide the company with an opportunity to enhance our role in leading UAV initiatives.”

The Neptune(TM) MUAV is the latest in a series of unmanned tactical air vehicles designed and manufactured by DRS Unmanned Technologies. Optimized for at-sea launch and recovery, this 5-foot long, 7-foot wing span air vehicle can be disassembled quickly into three parts and carried in a transport case already mounted on the launcher. One of the aircraft’s unique features is a pair of built-in receiver tubes, which allows the UAV to slide onto its launch rails for stowing compactly inside the transport container ready to pneumatically auto launch in a matter of minutes. The man-portable launcher/transporter is configured with the air vehicle already mounted on the launch rails with the wings stored in the top of the case. Once the launcher/transporter is positioned and the top removed, the wings latch in place and the air vehicle is powered and ready to launch. All pneumatics are inside the launcher/transporter case.

Comment: The drive by DRS into the UAV market was spearheaded by the company’s purchase of Meggitt’s US business. This gave DRS the technology to provide platforms and sensors to customers. This latest announcement shows that this policy is paying off.

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