Today, Oregon based company FLIR Systems Incorporated has purchased the Unmanned Aerial System (UAS) producer Altavian Incorporated. Altavian Incorporated is based in Gainesville, central Florida and specializes in the production of open architecture modular UAS’s. The company is a certified partner of the US military and is currently an accepted supplier for the US Army and the Department of Defense’s (DoD) Special Operations Command (SOCOM). Altavian Incorporated is presently participating in the DoD’s Defence Innovation Unit’s Blue sUAS project through the provision of the ION M440 and the NOVA F7200 UAS models. The project aims to deliver small UAS platforms for the DoD. The purchase by FLIR Systems Inc. is motivated primarily by the desire to expand the company’s existing UAV/UAS portfolio composed of the Black Hornet and SkyRanger R70 systems. A secondary motivation for the purchase likely lies in the desire of FLIR Systems Inc. to expand its presence in the US military procurement sphere in parallel to their current diversification strategy, currently serviced by the delivery of the US Army’s Man Transportable Robotic System Increment II. The acquisition will allow FLIR Systems Inc. to further diversify out of its thermal sensor manufacturing niche by offering a secondary diversification channel aside from the company’s CENTAUR bomb disposal robot development. Altavian Inc. will benefit from the acquisition by gaining access to a larger capital reservoir, enhancing product development capabilities. Altavian Inc. will be placed under FLIR’s Unmanned Systems and Integrated Solutions segment within the larger Defense Technologies business Sector.
Altavian Inc’s selection of unmanned aerial solutions is made up of the ION M440 and NOVA F7200. The company offers a third platform, the RQ-11 and RQ-20 details about this latter platform are scarce however. The ION M440 has quad-copter design, weighing 1.7kg with a length x width x height distribution of 7.6” x 11.75” x 4.5” when carried onto the field and 25.5” x 28.75” x 4.5” when deployed. The vehicle has day/night navigation capabilities, uses dead reckoning positioning and can tolerate wind speeds of 20 knots. The device has an operable temperature range of -20C – +50C encompassing the environment of most battlespaces. The ION M440 is commanded through a Samsung T9 tactical Android phone connected to a console pattern controller. The control element influences the platform through the use of a 1800 – 1850 MHz UHF encrypted radio frequency signal broadcast over a 1.8 mile radius. The vehicle is fully compliant with the most recent National Defense Authorization Act’s provisions. The second unmanned aerial solution of note, the NOVA F7200 is Altavian Inc’s flagship product was originally developed for topographic survey operations in challenging environments. The model is capable of missions up to 90 minutes in duration with a modular payload capacity for differing operational requirements. The military purpose of the NOVA F7200 relates to the mapping of the battlefield and the supply of Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance (ISR) data to field commanders. The NOVA F7200 is controlled through a 1625 – 2110 MHz UHF encrypted radio frequency broadcast over a 9.3 mile command zone.
Altavian Incorporated was founded in 2011 with the objective of manufacturing a cheap, safer and more efficient alternative to manned topographic survey flights. The company began life in the University of Florida’s Micro Aerial Vehicle Lab, with the founders becoming involved with the university’s entrepreneurship programme. The fledgling firm produced the NOVA fixed wing craft as their first product, a product which has subsequently developed into the NOVA F7200. The NOVA attracted the attention of the US military soon after, with the US Army Engineer Corps becoming the company’s first defence clients. Altavian Incorporated remains a small firm with over forty employees as of 2020. The manufacturer is wholly American, being funded and directed by US nationals, the production of the company’s drones are done completely within the territory of the United States. The result is a firm whose trustworthiness and commitment to national security makes it a natural choice for national defence customers with a recorded $30 million in drone contracts emanating from the US Army and SOCOM alone. The relationship enjoyed by Altavian with the US government has led to the business being bestowed the coveted Trusted Technology Provider certification. The purchasing company, FLIR Systems Inc. was established in 1978 with the vision to pioneer the development of high-performance low-cost IR imaging systems. The company, operating out of Wilsonville Oregon, employees 3,000 and remains a global leader in the manufacture and design of thermal imagery technology. Over the past decade the FLIR Systems Inc has begun to seek other revenue streams such as the curation of a robotics and unmanned aviation portfolio.