Israeli developer of the HERO family of loitering munitions, UVision, has established a business entity in the US to allow it to better compete in the nation’s defence market. Jim Truxel, CEO of UVision USA, discussed his new company and its activities with MON US correspondent Marty Kauchak.
MON: Thanks for taking the time to speak with us. Congratulations are in order following the establishment of UVision USA.
Jim Truxel (JT): You are welcome. UVision Air Ltd. is the parent company of UVision USA. We’re a wholly owned subsidiary of that company. UVision’s strategy through the past three or so years was to establish an office in the US at a time when they saw it was necessary to meet some of their growth requirements and bring their business closer to these new end customers. UVision USA was established this January. We’re walking through the process of getting ourselves established as a US government contractor, completing export compliance and other things necessary to allow us to be considered a prime contractor for the US government.
MON: Has UVision delivered any of its HERO family of munitions to US DoD or other US government agencies?
JT: UVision has delivered the HERO-30 munition to the US government for evaluation purposes. We have completed product demonstrations, training on the systems and other activities. We are in the process of delivering additional members of the HERO family for evaluation and other efforts, which I prefer not to go into detail on.
MON: Please update us on UVision’s primary product, the HERO family of loitering missiles.
JT: We have nine different variations in the family of products – all having different capabilities, lethality packages, endurance ranges and such. That is the primary product we’re bringing to this market space.
MON: And loitering munitions must be a significant product of interest in US DoD.
JT: The US military across the board – every branch of DoD – has interest in loitering munitions and UVision’s products are now facing newcomers to this competition in the likes of other OEMs who are now entering into this field. There’s a lot of attention to loitering munitions and how it will change the future battlespace. When you think of multi-domain operations, loitering munitions are one of the tool sets that will be needed to win.
MON: We share your assessment that loitering munitions is a very competitive market space. What’s the business case to encourage customers to buy HERO weapons – what capabilities set your munitions apart from others?
JT: Our loitering munition is different in the sense it is a complete family of products. With respect to operation, regardless of which model you train on to operate, the enabling equipment that you use to operate and communicate is all the same. If you train on a HERO 30, you can fly the -120, -400 or another. There is no additional training requirement for operating the different sizes of air vehicles. We’re unique in that aspect.
MON: Is it accurate to say the HERO products have been combat proven and battle tested?
JT: The most that I can say at this moment is that there have been actual theatre evaluations of HERO.
MON: What’s ahead for UVision USA here in the US, in the next several months, with regard to demonstrations or other activities?
JT: There are a number of programmes out there, but because of the competitive nature I can’t go into much depth. We do have planned demonstrations for the remainder of 2019 and into 2020, with different military branches.
MON: And is it correct to say the current HERO munitions are produced in-house, or do you have suppliers for content?
JT: All UVision loitering munitions are built by UVision. In the US, I am completing site surveys and reviews to stand up a manufacturing facility. We’ll have full manufacturing, engineering, training, simulation, life cycle logistics and a US-based supply chain – all based here in the US. Now we’re focused on the right location.
MON: And beyond a US location for your operations, are there other announcements we should be attentive to from your company in the next six or so months?
JT: We don’t have any planned announcements. But a lot could change in the near future – depending upon what happens with the programmes in which we’re competing.
MON: We appreciate your time: is there anything else to add?
JT: I appreciate the opportunity to speak with MON. The point I would like to emphasise is UVision is fully committed to the US warfighter. UVision USA is a clear indication of that commitment. We are going to bring over that technology to the US – the HERO products will be built in the US for the US warfighters. The commitment is there. Hopefully the next time we talk we’ll actually be discussing the establishment of the new facility, or have even made deliveries out of the new factory.