The Department of Defense has made the vast majority of purchases of unmanned aerial vehicles, otherwise known as drones, more than any other government agency. However, in September of 2011 the State Department solicited bids from defense contractors for drones that could be used “achieve and maintain situational awareness, automatically generate and disseminate high quality video imaging, respond to a security incident at locations remote from the core of operations, disseminate threat information for use in route planning, receive, view, and analyze in route activity.” Apparently none of the bids could meet the State Department’s standards:
The U.S. State Department canceled its $1 billion surveillance drone competition, saying none of the proposals met its requirements, according to the U.S. government’s Federal Business Opportunities website.
The competition had called for companies to operate small-scale unmanned aircraft that would supply real-time video of convoy routes and buildings. It was an opportunity for companies such as Aerovironment Inc. (AVAV) and Vanguard Defense Industries LLC to boost sales outside the Department of Defense, the biggest U.S. buyer of unmanned aircraft.
The State Department “plans to examine closely the requirements stipulated in the solicitation with the intent of developing and releasing a new” request for drone proposals, according to the notice.
Photo: Vanguard Defense Industries Shadowhawk drone.
Photo: President Barack Obama holds a National Security Council meeting in the Situation Room of the White House. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)
Photo: A U.S. Air Force EQ-4 Global Hawk unmanned aerial vehicle waits for its takeoff time before its first launch from an undisclosed location in Southwest Asia. The EQ-4 carries the Battlefield Airborne Communications Node (BACN), which acts as a persistent gateway, bridging diverse tactical data links and voice communications to improve battlefield communications. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Eric Harris)