Columbus Firm Selected by Air Force to Demonstrate Long Endurance UAV

September 1, 2010

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senators Roger Wicker (R-Miss.) and Thad Cochran (R-Miss.) today praised Aurora Flight Sciences for winning a Department of Defense competition to build an unmanned aerial vehicle that can stay aloft for days at a time.  

The Defense Department has selected Aurora Flight Sciences to demonstrate an unmanned aircraft system under the Medium Altitude Global ISR and Communications (MAGIC) program.  The aircraft proposed for this program is the Orion Unmanned Aerial System (UAS) developed at Aurora’s facility at Columbus, Miss.

“Aurora and its Mississippi workforce represent a key industrial partner for our men and women at war,” said Wicker.  “This kind of next generation technology developed at Aurora provides our soldiers with more real-time information at an affordable cost.”

“Aurora Flight Sciences now has an opportunity to provide the Defense Department with unmanned vehicle technologies that can greatly increase its surveillance and information-gathering capabilities,” said Cochran, vice chairman of the Senate Defense Appropriations Subcommittee.  “I believe this award to Aurora represents a recognition of the innovative and promising potential of high-tech products produced in Mississippi.”

The Orion has been under design and development for several years at Aurora’s Columbus location, which currently employs approximately 60 engineers and technicians.  As a result of the contract, Aurora expects employment to more than double at its Columbus, Mississippi, facility in support of the program.

The Orion is a 135-foot wingspan, all-composite aircraft powered by twin diesel engines.  This UAS can carry a payload of 1,000 pounds for endurance of over 120 hours at altitudes of up to 20,000 feet. 

“This contract builds on Aurora’s leading role in unmanned aerial vehicle development and will be another great opportunity to provide value to the Armed Services,” added Aurora CEO John Langford.   “We look forward to supporting DoD and working with the U.S. Air Force to deliver this innovative capability to the warfighter.”

MAGIC, to be managed by the U.S. Air Force, was established under the Department of Defense’s Joint Capability Technology Demonstration program.