Are you a remote pilot looking for a cyber-secure UAS that has been thoroughly vetted by the United States Department of Defense (DoD), and that has all the appropriate administrative documentation to back it up?
If so, you're probably familiar with the Blue UAS program, which rolled out a list of drones and vendors to provide their capable sUAS systems to the U.S. government at various levels.
The DoD first rolled out the pilot program of Blue UAS back in 2020. Since, it's grown to accommodate the unique needs and interests of its stakeholders at the federal, state, and local levels.
So, what are the best options for you when it comes to "Blue" drones? Let's break it all down.
*If you aren't familiar with Blue sUAS drones, here's a comprehensive rundown to elaborate on what the program is all about: Everything You Need to Know About the Blue UAS Program.
Top 5 Blue sUAS Drones
It's challenging to narrow down your drone options when making such a substantial investment. From price to capabilities, and everything in between, you need to know which one suits your specific needs best.
For that reason, we created this top-5 list to help narrow down your choices.
*Now, we're drone agnostic, so we don't have a dog in the fight. We provide solutions from most every drone manufacturer. This list is just based on what we've seen in the law-enforcement sector.
These are some of the best Blue UAS and NDAA-compliant solutions. However, prioritizing these five isn't meant to downplay the capabilities of the other UAVs in the "cleared list," as they are highly competitive, too.
Remember that there is a growing pool of UAVs providing unmatched data security. Therefore, it's essential to always be on the lookout for new additions that may fit your unique UAS needs.
Data security is a non-negotiable feature in most drone programs. However, there's much more to a powerful quadcopter than just that.
How good is its signal penetration? Can it accommodate a remote dropping payload? Can it take off at low-light locations? How well can it fly in tight spaces? Or better yet, can it perform indoor operations without incessantly crashing?
Let's break it all down. Keep one thing in mind - there's no specific order to this list as we don't really favor one drone over another. That's for you to decide!
1. senseFly eBee TAC
senseFly's eBee TAC is what we'd call a showstopper because its features do precisely that. It's a fixed-wing drone whose engineers mostly had mapping in mind during the design process. Plot twist - it does that, and so much more, exceptionally well, which is why it made our list.
So, what does eBee TAC do? It not only serves as a tool for law enforcement operations, such as search and rescue, but it also can be an asset for the military during battlefield surveillance.
How so? Let's start from its exterior, which includes a pixelated camouflage. This is a tactical strategy to obscure its visibility in the sky.
Now you see it, now you don't.
Besides its ability to hide in plain sight, the eBee TAC is the perfect drone for emergencies, as it only takes three (3) minutes to get it out, up, and running.
It boasts an impressive 90-minute flight time, allowing it to cover at least 1235 acres at an altitude of 400 feet. The UAV has highly optimized sensors with the options of swappable RGB, 3D, multispectral and thermal payloads.
Now, you'd expect all of these built-in features to weigh down the eBee TAC ... literally. Surprisingly, this isn't the case, as the eBee only weights about 3.6 lbs (1.6 kg).
Additionally, it allows integration with third-party software, such as Google Earth Enterprise Platform and other situational awareness tools.
Sounds pretty robust, right? It is, and it just might be the best option for you.
2. Parrot ANAFI USA GOV Edition
The Parrot ANAFI USA GOV Edition is an American-manufactured UAV that packs some intriguing features for its size.
It's perfectly sized and weighs about 500 grams, enabling you to minimize the time wasted moving from one inspection site to another. That aspect, alone, has a positive butterfly effect on your organization's productivity.
Parrot ANAFI USA GOV Edition (full breakdown here) has an advanced imaging system with thermal imaging capabilities. Its system incorporates three cameras that enable the production of high-resolution videos and stills.
What else does it have to offer?
Aside from its impressive IP rating (IP53), which makes it weatherproof, the UAV is also relatively easy to operate. It's safe to say that, besides being s a highly cyber-secure system, it was built with ease-of-use in mind due to its autonomous flight capabilities.
The drone also includes built-in technology that propels its robust software ecosystem that accommodates multiple software tools. If the weather conditions are ideal, you can enjoy a flight time of 32 minutes with little noise due to its improved propeller design.
Another great feature is the minimal time it takes to transition from the transport case to being airborne - only about 55 seconds.
It might just be the perfect option for you!
3. WingtraOne Gen II
Wingtra's vertical take-off-and-landing (VTOL) UAV is one of the most unique looking drones of its kind. It's also very distinguishable as it's covered in bright orange.
So, how does it perform?
The WingtraOne Gen II weighs about 8.1 lb (3.7kg) and can fly over 520 acres during missions at about 400 feet above ground level.
You can unpack, go through its pre-flight checklist, and create a flight path all under 5 minutes. Hence, making it convenient for use, especially during emergency operations where time is of the essence.
The WingtraOne Gen II can fly for up to 59 minutes when the weather conditions are ideal. Now that we're speaking of weather, it's IP54 rated, but it's not advisable to use it during rainy, foggy, or snowy conditions.
It's fully autonomous, which goes hand-in-hand with its ease-of-use and intelligent features, such as flight geotagging. Despite that, it still allows the option of a manual take-over using controls on the smart remote controller.
The UAS accommodates several payloads, including RGB, oblique, and multispectral cameras.
WingraOne Gen II uses the Sony Alpha 6100 oblique camera, which facilitates 3D modeling, and ultimately scales up the video and picture resolution.
It integrates PPK technology to eliminate the need for ground control points (GCP) - PPK makes work more manageable, quicker, and accurate.
So, could this be the drone that suits your mission requirements? Quite possible!
4. Freefly Alta X
Freefly's Alta X is among the newest additions to the cleared list.
It's an American-made UAV tailored for precision that's meant to bring that and more to your mission. Like the WingraOne, Alta X is a VTOL airframe, the key difference being that it folds to half of its normal size with just the push of a button.
It's one of the few airframes in the market with the capacity to accommodate up to 35 pounds of payloads. The ample usable payload capacity allows it to accommodate third-party payloads, such as gimbaled EO, RTK cameras, PPK mapping cameras, LiDAR, hyperspectral sensors, and drop or delivery systems.
Its massive propellers incorporate an advanced propeller mechanism, known as ActiveBlade, that significantly reduces vibration. Vibration usually affects the drone's components, thus, reducing it will improve your flight experience and lead to more refined data collection.
The airframe's standard flight time stands at 41 minutes. Generally, that flight time varies with payload weights. The heavier the payloads mounted, the lesser the flight time.
So, is Alta X the right UAS platform for you?
5. Ascent AeroSystems Spirit
Ascent's Spirit is another American-made UAV.
It's ruggedly designed and incredible built-in tech enable it to handle a variety of mission-critical operations.
The airframe has a unique cylindrical design that allows dual payload support (top and bottom) alongside airspeeds greater than 60 miles-per-hour.
The compact coaxial UAV weighs 4.1 pounds (1.8 kg), and its usable payload capacity stands at: 6.5 pounds (3.0 kg).
Spirit has a decent flight time that may vary according to the number of batteries used and the payload weight. The disparities in flight time can be seen as follows:
- A single battery has a 38-minute flight time with no payload and can only fly for 16 minutes with a maximum payload capacity.
- Two batteries have a 53-minute flight time with no payloads mounted and can only stretch up to 32 minutes with a maximum payload capacity.
While in flight, the drone can reach maximum altitudes of 14,600 feet above mean sea level (5,000m).
Spirit is also weatherproof and IP56 rated, thus, it can operate when temperatures are as low as -40F or as high as 130F.
And, it has an advanced base station and airborne video inputs that support the simultaneous use of airborne sensors.
So, would you consider adding it to your fleet?
Best Drone Solutions For Your Organization
These five drones all offer a ton of value to organizations across the United States.
But, is one right for you? It all depends on what you plan to do with it.
If you're still not sure, though, that's where Advexure comes into play. Not only do we distribute the UAS platforms, but our team of highly trained experts actually used them in the field for various use-cases as professionals.
We understand the ins and outs of creating and mastering drone programs, and we're here to help you put the right one in place. And, if you've already got one, we can help to integrate a new UAS into it.
Ready to take your program to the next level? Just send us a message or start a live chat with us today! We'll help you understand the Blue sUAS program, and put the right solution in place for you and your team.