The US Army has published a RFI for Aerovironment RQ-12B Wasp AE Unmanned Aircraft System in response to a requirement from the Bangladesh Army.
The RFI for the small unmanned aircraft system was revealed formally by the US Army authorities on 8 October for an undisclosed number of systems.
The RQ-12B will be used for intelligence, surveillance, target acquisition, and reconnaissance (ISTAR). The unmanned aircraft system comprises of a hand-launched airframe and electro-optical/infrared (EO/IR) payload, associated ground control stations (GCS) and spare parts.
Each RQ-12B system consists of two air vehicles and a GCS.
Once the response to the RFI is received the US Army authorities will draw up a contract whereby contract value and delivery time line will also be determined.
According to Aerovironment the RQ-12 Wasp AE is “best-in-class” in terms of capabilities for an unmanned aircraft system of its size, stealth-like manoeuvreability, imagery resolution quality, encrypted video and ease of use.
The Wasp, fitted with a pan-tilt-zoom Mantis i22 AE gimbal payload is mechanically stabilised allowing for transmission of high quality images even in high-wind conditions. Its advanced avionics allows its operator to control it manually or set it to autonomous navigation move.
The hand-launched Wasp UAS can be operated from confined spaces on land or water. The airframe also features an integrated landing camera for improved situational awareness as the aircraft approaches the ground.
The RQ-12B Wasp AE UAS has a maximum link range of 5 km, a wingspan of 1 m and length of 0.76 m. Its weight is only 1.3 kg and can be operated for 50 minutes at a time in the air. The system is fully man-portable and of rugged design allowing for small teams of infantry or Special Forces to utilise the aircraft in challenging environmental conditions in day or night.
The Wasp UAS is currently in service with the Armed Forces of Australia, France, United States, Czech Republic, Sweden and Spain. Bangladesh is the only country in Asia to purchase/operate this unmanned aircraft system.
Bangladesh and US are currently enhancing defence ties with sale or transfer of various equipment to the Bangladesh armed forces including Special Forces equipment, interdiction craft, communications equipment, MRAPs and infantry weapons.
Boeing earlier announced it is in the midst of securing a major attack helicopter contract with the Bangladesh Air Force for AH-64E. The Bangladesh Air Force is processing the acquisition currently.
Bangladesh and the US are set to sign the General Security Of Military Information Agreements (GSOMIA) and Acquisition and Cross-Servicing Agreement (ACSA), which will pave the way for the sale of high-end defence hardware to the Bangladesh Armed Forces such as F-16, F/A-18 and AH-64Es.