The U.S. Air Force has awarded a new $48 million contract to Aurora Flight Sciences for the continued development of the Orion Unmanned Aircraft System (UAS).
Orion is a twin-engine high performance UAS that can stay aloft over 100 hours at a time with
payloads in excess of 1,000 pounds. Development of the Orion started in 2006 and its first flight was in August 2013.
The new contract funds the development of a certified version of Orion that will be suitable for
deployment anywhere in the world. The work will be performed in Columbus, Mississippi, and Manassas, Virginia.
In December 2014, the Orion established the current UAS world endurance record with an 80-hour, 2-minute and 52-second flight.
A single Orion UAS can perform two days of persistent surveillance when operating from bases over 3,000 miles away from the target of interest.
Boeing acquired the Aurora in October 2017, giving the company the much needed financial and sales leverage.