US Navy plans to buy 120 submarine-launched Blackwing UAVs

Blackwing UAS (Image Credit: AeroVironment)
Blackwing UAS (Image Credit: AeroVironment)

The US Navy continues its pioneering role in the use of cutting-edge technology. The service will acquire Blackwing UAV which can be launched from below the sea surface. A request for proposal (RFP) on the U.S. government’s contracting website, revealed that the Naval Sea Systems Command (NAVSEA) plans to buy up to 120 Blackwing 10C UAVs from the AeroVironment company.

Blackwing UAV

AeroVironment’s Blackwing is a small, Unmanned Aircraft System (UAS) that delivers rapid-response Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance (ISR). The system can be deployed from an underwater submarine using an underwater-to-air delivery canister or ship surface/mobile ground vehicle via tube or Multipack Launcher (MPL). Blackwing incorporates an advanced, miniature Electro-Optical and Infrared (EO/IR) sensor and provides operators with real-time video for information gathering and feature/object recognition.

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Blackwing UAV (Image Credit: AeroVironment)


» Rapid Launch—Rapid-Response ISR
» Launch method—underwater-to-air delivery canister, tube, MPL
» Tactical Data Relay—UAS to UUV
» Able to assess Below Line of Sight targets
» Modular payload
» Integrated EO/IR sensors—day/night operations
» Observables—very low visual, thermal, and acoustic signatures
» Comms—DDL-Joint, Interoperable, Encrypted, Wideband

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Blackwing UAV (Image Credit: AeroVironment)

The request for proposal (RFP)

The Naval Sea Systems Command (NAVSEA) intends to issue a sole-source Request for Proposal (RFP) for a two-year (2) Indefinite Delivery Indefinite Quantity (IDIQ) type contract to Aerovironment, Inc. for the procurement of Blackwing 10C Electro-Optic (EO) and Infrared (IR) equipped Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAV), in support of the Submarine-Launched Unmanned Aerial System (SLUAS) Program. These units will be used on various Navy submarine platforms during the SLUAS Middle Tier Acquisition program execution, estimated to be completed in May 2023. 

Tactical Temporary Installations (TEMPALT) of the SLUAS system integrating the Blackwing 10C Electro-Optic (EO) and Infrared (IR) equipped Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAV), is projected to be approved on 10 March 2021.  In order to meet FY21-FY23 TEMPALT installation requirements, the US Navy intends to procure up to 120 Blackwing 10C UAVs. The ordering period of the planned IDIQ contract is projected to begin May 2021 and end May 2023, with deliveries beginning as early as August 2021. AV is the only known responsible source that possesses the facilities, tooling, equipment, manufacturing expertise, and technical expertise to provide the required Blackwing 10C UAVs within the Government’s required delivery and ordering period. The Blackwing 10C UAVs have already been developed, tested, and demonstrated successful integration with the rest of the SLUAS components and subsystems.

This notice is not a request for competitive proposals; however, all responsible sources may submit a capability statement, proposal, or quotation, which shall be considered by the agency. This notice does not constitute a solicitation, nor an obligation on the part of the Government. Information received will be considered solely for the purposes of determining whether to conduct a competitive procurement in the future. Neither unsolicited proposals nor any other kind of offers will be considered in response to this notice. Respondents are wholly responsible for any costs or expenses associated with submitting a response. The Government reserves the right to use information provided by respondents for any purpose deemed necessary and legally appropriate. Respondents are advised that the Government is under no obligation to acknowledge receipt of the information received or provide feedback to respondents with respect to any information submitted. Respondents will not be notified of the results of this notice.


AeroVironment (NASDAQ: AVAV) is a technology solutions provider at the intersection of future defining capabilities that include robotics, sensors, software analytics and connectivity. The company pioneered and is a leader in the markets for tactical Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS), Tactical Missile Systems (TMS), High-Altitude Pseudo-Satellites (HAPS) and Commercial Information Solutions (CIS).

Check out Naval Library App to find out the specifications of Blackwing UAV: