Pentagon approves American-made small drones for the U.S. Military

Approval comes after Congress banned Chinese-made small drones for military use

The Pentagon approved five small drone makers this week to sell their products to the U.S. Military and federal agencies starting in September.

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The project, coined Blue small Unmanned Aircraft Systems (sUAS), is the culmination of an 18-month effort by the Defense Innovation Unit to provide trusted, secure sUAS to the U.S. military.

“Blue sUAS represents a tremendous first step toward building a robust and trusted UAS domestic industrial base that ensures sustained delivery of highly-capable, secure UAS to the warfighters that depend on it,” Michael Kratsios, acting under secretary of defense for research and engineering, said in a statement Thursday. “Blue sUAS showcases how we can both work with small, nontraditional companies and our allies and partners to quickly pilot cutting-edge technologies that support our mutual defense.”

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Four of the companies -- Altavian, Skydio, Teal, and Vantage Robotics -- are based in the United States, while a fifth one, Parrot, is French. ANAFI USA, the drone that Parrot has gotten approval to sell to the U.S. Military, is manufactured in the U.S.

Skydio showcased this week how one of its drones, the X2D, can be used in reconnaissance and security patrol missions.

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“As concerns around trust and security have grown, Skydio is proud to provide an American drone with the world’s most advanced autonomy technology and the highest standards of cyber and supply chain security,” Skydio CEO Adam Bry said Thursday.

Altavian's Ion M440 drone is built for short-range reconnaissance missions in a tactical environment full of obstacles. The drone has capabilities like GPS-denied operations, which allows for enhanced navigation at day and night in areas where GPS is denied.

Teal Drones designed and mass-produced its Golden Eagle drone for short-range reconnaissance to be “rugged, secure, and easily adaptable to any situation.”

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“For the military, our goal is to increase warfighter lethality and survivability, ultimately enhancing the potential mission success,” Teal Drones founder and CEO George Matus told FOX Business on Friday. “There’s a lot of potential to save lives and increase the lethality of our warfighters.”

The Pentagon’s approval of these U.S.-made drones comes after the 2020 National Defense Authorization Act prohibited the purchase or operation of drones made in China.

“We need an alternative to Chinese-made small drones and Blue sUAS is a first step in achieving that objective.” Mike Brown, director of the Defense Innovation Unit said in a statement Thursday.  “Working across DOD and the U.S. government aggregates the business opportunity for these five vendors and enhances the long-term viability of this capability for the U.S. and our allies.”

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