AE Industrial Partners, LP (“AEI”), a US-based private equity firm specializing in aerospace, defense & government services, space, power generation, and specialty industrial markets, announced today that it has expanded its Unmanned and Autonomous platform through the acquisition of Jennings Aeronautics, Inc. (“JAI”), a leading provider of innovative Small Unmanned Aerial Systems (“SUAS”). JAI will be combined with UAV Factory, a global leader in tactical Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (“UAV”) and Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance (“ISR”) technology, which was acquired by AEI in January of 2021.
As part of the transaction, JAI CEO John Purvis will assume the role of CEO of the combined company, while JAI Founder Gordon Jennings will remain with the combined company in a senior leadership role. Terms of the transaction were not disclosed.
Based in San Luis Obispo, CA, JAI’s systems have a strong operational track record supporting customer requirements across a variety of challenging global environments. JAI’s experienced team of engineers and technicians have extensive expertise in the production of innovative SUAS that merge the payload capacity and endurance of larger systems with the flexibility of a more portable vehicle. Built to include a true next generation electric vertical take-off capability and a ruggedized solid oxide fuel cell, JAI’s SUAS have best-in-class endurance and allow for the support and performance of a diverse set of customer missions in challenging environments with minimal requirements on the ground. JAI is a truly differentiated provider of small unmanned systems, with unmatched experience in autonomous flight control software, avionics, GCS software, system integration, design engineering, imaging payloads, and airframe fabrication.
“Joining the UAV Factory team and the AEI family at this exciting time in the industry’s development is a game-changer for JAI and I’m honored to take the helm of the combined company during this pivotal moment,” said John Purvis. “We will now have more capital, operational expertise and an international footprint allowing us to grow our business and support our customers better than we could alone. I look forward to working with the team as we continue to build a truly disruptive and differentiated player in the unmanned and autonomous market.”
JAI marks the first acquisition into the UAV Factory platform since AEI acquired UAV Factory in January 2021.
“JAI prides itself on unparalleled customer support. For over three decades, we have focused on advancing SUAS technology, and the combination of our complementary systems and products will be a significant advantage for our customers looking for a broader spectrum of product offerings,” said Gordon Jennings. “We’ll also greatly benefit from AE Industrial’s vision, expertise and relationships as we move forward.”
“AEI is committed to building a unique and differentiated platform with proprietary technology in the unmanned and autonomous market, and with the addition of JAI and its innovative SUAS offerings, we have taken a huge step forward in reaching this goal,” said Jeffrey Hart, Principal at AEI. “JAI also affords us tremendous manufacturing and engineering capabilities and a footprint that will allow us to quickly scale and meet the growing demands of our customers”
“It is rare in this rapidly developing industry to find a company with the deep technical experience and reputation for quality that JAI possesses. Their heritage will be a critical advantage as we grow the combined company,” said Kirk Konert, Partner at AEI. “We look forward to continued innovation and new product development, while identifying new opportunities to grow.”
“The powerful combination of JAI and UAV Factory will provide tremendous synergies and create an instant force in the tactical UAV market,” said Josh Brungardt, who will assume the role of Chief Operating Officer of the combined company. “We’re excited to partner with John, Gordon and the entire JAI team to take the combined company to the next level.”
Kirkland & Ellis served as legal advisor and William Blair and PricewaterhouseCoopers served as financial advisors to AEI and UAV Factory. Orrick was legal advisor to JAI.