FORT WORTH, Tx — Galaxy Unmanned Systems LLC’s proposal for an aerostat/airship hybrid has been competitively selected for a potential Phase I Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) contract with the U.S. Army.
If awarded in early 2020, the SBIR contract calls for enhancement and augmentation of current aerostat capabilities that provide low-cost, persistent intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance during high-intensity conflicts. The effort will be to design a hybrid aerostat/airship variant with the option to remove the tether and operate autonomously.
Galaxy Unmanned Systems is a Fort Worth-based company founded by brothers Tony and Jason White. Galaxy offers innovative unmanned systems applications, including concept, design, manufacturing, certification, testing, payload configuration, sub-system integration, documentation, training and operations. The company has more than 40 years of industry experience with autonomous systems.
”We’re thrilled to have been selected for potential contract negotiation. If / when the Army decides to dedicate the funds that are available for this project, Galaxy appears to be the choice,” said Tony White. “The contract calls for Galaxy, working with its strategic partner, Waterlines AeroDesign LLC, to perform a feasibility study for leveraging our commercial unmanned airship designs for military use and demonstrate potential capabilities via use of commercial products as military prototypes.”
Established in 1982, the SBIR program is Congressionally-mandated to increase the participation of small businesses in federal research and development (R&D). The goal is to tap into the innovativeness and creativity of the small business community to help meet government R&D objectives. These small companies develop technologies, products and services that they can commercialize to the private sector or government.
Phase I will define factors for a Phase II sensor demonstration for the Army’s fires (artillery), cyber and force protection community.
If the 6-10-month Phase I feasibility study were to go well, a commercial prototype would be built and demonstrated for Department of Defense stakeholders during Phase II. Potential defense customers and partners might include Army program-of record, force protection systems, U.S. Marines, Navy command units, U.S. Air Force security force operations, Coast Guard, Customs and Border Patrol, Nuclear Energy Commission, Homeland Security (cruise missile defense) and foreign military sales.
Before a 2009 Federal Aviation Administration shutdown of the United States National Airspace (USNAS) to commercial drones, Galaxy’s unmanned airships were operating across the U.S. and internationally. From 2000–2009, Galaxy initiated work on several outdoor unmanned airships, culminating in a broadcast quality platform that made history as the first unmanned airship to work a live broadcast—National Hot Rod Association.
Unmanned systems configurations include multi-engine (up to five motors), pushers, flying wings, blimps (aka airships), parasails, helicopters, multi-copters, water aircraft and heavy lift aircraft. Galaxy’s airships are extremely versatile platforms. Key capabilities include Vertical Take-Off and Landing (VTOL), high visibility while in the air, capability of carrying the heaviest, most expensive payloads in the safest, most-efficient way possible, and small operational footprints. They can be used commercially for aerial broadcasting and advertising platforms, for utility inspections (such as powerline, pipeline, rail, oil and gas facilities), agriculture aerial sampling, forestry and wildlife support, search and rescue, and scientific research.
Tony White has more than 25 years of unmanned airship experience. He has managed every level of UAS development from piloting, design, construction, R&D, airspace integration, sensor integration, manuals, training programs, market research, business development and product placement. He pioneered unmanned aerial broadcasting by providing live broadcast feeds to ESPN’s NHRA events. He trained more than 200 contractors to operate TCOM and Aerostar aerostats in Afghanistan. Mr. White has completed 2 combat tours as a Boeing Scan Eagle UAV pilot contractor. He has served in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Jason White is the managing partner of Galaxy Unmanned Systems LLC and has more than 13 years of combined operations and program management experience in new and emerging technologies. His experience includes standing up businesses in unmanned aerospace solutions, B2B custom models and displays production, unmanned aerial broadcast solutions, product lifecycle management (PLM) engineering solutions, and creation and implementation of successful training programs for government contracts that accommodate rapid and sustainment level deployment schedules with aggressive technology fielding plans.