Air Force and DIU Partner on Enterprise Test Vehicle (ETV) Project with 4 Commercial Firms

The U.S. Air Force Armament Directorate (AFLCMC/EB) and the Defense Innovation Unit (DIU) have announced a collaborative effort, the Enterprise Test Vehicle (ETV) Project, to leverage commercial technologies for a new class of drones.

ETV design rendering from IS4S. (Source: Integrated Solutions for Systems, Inc.)

Focus on Modularity and Affordability

The ETV aims to demonstrate modularity for subsystem upgrades, enabling rapid testing and integration of new technologies. Additionally, the project prioritizes cost-effective, high-rate production through the use of commercial off-the-shelf (COTS) components and modern design for manufacturing (DfM) approaches. This ensures the air vehicles are optimized for their mission, minimizing production costs and avoiding over-engineering.

Industry Collaboration for Rapid Development

Four companies – Anduril Industries, Integrated Solutions for Systems, Inc., Leidos Dynetics, and Zone 5 Technologies – were selected from over 100 applicants to develop prototype solutions. Initial flight demonstrations are expected within seven months, with the most promising design chosen for further development towards a rapidly scalable production variant.

The ETV prototypes will utilize an open systems architecture reference design, facilitating future upgrades and rapid integration of new subsystems. This modularity, coupled with the ability for mass deployment via various launch methods, aims to overwhelm adversaries.

Collaborative Innovation for Warfighter Needs

“The ETV presents an opportunity to leverage promising ideas from industry to create and refine affordable designs for test capabilities that can be produced on a relevant timeline,” said Assistant Secretary of the Air Force for Acquisition, Technology and Logistics Andrew Hunter. DIU Director Doug Beck echoed this sentiment, highlighting the project’s focus on speed, scale, and leveraging commercial technology to deliver cost-effective, rapidly deployable autonomous systems.

The ETV project serves as a springboard for broader initiatives within the Department of Defense. DIU aims to accelerate autonomy across various domains, including adopting commercial solutions and improving defensive capabilities against adversarial autonomous systems.