AAI Unmanned Aircraft Systems, an operating unit of Textron Systems, a Textron Inc. (TXT - Analyst Report) company, has won the competitive Mid-Endurance Unmanned Aircraft Systems (MEUAS) II award from the U.S. Special Operations Command (USSOCOM). The three-year award, valued at just under $600 million, includes support operations using AAI's Aerosonde Small Unmanned Aircraft System (SUAS). Total initial funding for these activities is $20 million.
The Aerosonde SUAS is a high-performance system that incorporates a heavy-fuel engine for superior endurance. The Aerosonde aircraft's single electro-optic/infrared payload delivers day-and-night, persistent intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance, while its large payload size, weight and power can accommodate another payload of choice for multi-mission flexibility. It utilizes AAI's one-piece Launch and Recovery Trailer and the Expeditionary Ground Control Station for expeditionary land- and sea-based operations.
Another Textron Systems operating unit, AAI Logistics & Technical Services will provide worldwide operations and maintenance support for the MEUAS II program. The company's experienced UAS operators and field service representatives have been deployed successfully around the globe in support of customer requirements.
AAI Unmanned Aircraft Systems designs and manufactures combat-proven unmanned aircraft systems. AAI's multi-mission capable unmanned aircraft and interoperable command and control technologies provide critical situational awareness and actionable intelligence for users worldwide.
Headquartered in Wilmington, Massachusetts, Textron Systems is known for its unmanned aircraft systems, advanced marine craft, armored vehicles, intelligent battlefield and surveillance systems, intelligence software solutions, precision smart weapons, piston engines, test and training systems, and total life cycle sustainment and operational services.
We believe Textron should do well in its commercial aerospace businesses with the gradual recovery in the economy. The improving fundamentals in the commercial aerospace industry should bode well for Textron’s Cessna jets and Bell Helicopter businesses going forward. Cessna’s fortunes will improve mainly through high demand for light cabin business jets.
Also, in the near term, Bell’s growth will be guided by a judicious mix of military and commercial business from the V-22 Osprey and H-1 helicopters. Textron Systems will also see growth coming from government’s focus on UAVs (unmanned aerial vehicles) and ASVs (armored security vehicles).
Also, Textron’s geographically diverse network of aircraft, defense & intelligence, industrial and finance businesses counters any specific business risk. The company is known around the world for its most recognizable and valuable brand names, such as Bell Helicopter, Cessna Aircraft Company, Jacobsen, Kautex, Lycoming, E-Z-GO and Greenlee.
The company has a strong presence in diverse areas of business jets and other general aviation aircraft, helicopter, aircraft engines, golf carts, turf maintenance equipment, electronic test equipment and blow-molded fuel tanks.
Textron, bullish on its top-line growth prospects across all of its manufacturing segments, is forecasting fiscal 2012 revenues of approximately $12.5 billion.
Our Neutral recommendation on the stock is in sync with its diversified conglomerate peers like CLARCOR Inc. (CLC - Snapshot Report) and Carlisle Companies Incorporated (CSL - Snapshot Report).