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AAI Corp Acquires Leading Australian UAV Developer Aerosonde

An Aerosonde UAV
by Staff Writers
Hunt Valley MD (SPX) Jun 23, 2006
United Industrial Corporation has announced that its wholly owned subsidiary AAI Corporation has acquired privately held Aerosonde Pty Ltd. and Aerosonde North America, Inc. in stock purchase transactions for an aggregate purchase price of $6.5 million, with additional consideration payable upon the achievement of certain milestones.

AAI is considered a premier U.S. designer, manufacturer, and systems integrator of tactical unmanned aircraft systems, ground control station technologies, and other innovative unmanned system capabilities.

Aerosonde Pty is a Victoria, Australia-based manufacturer and developer of unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) systems with civil and military customers in Australia, Asia, and North America. Aerosonde North America operates the Aerosonde UAV in support of R&D and weather forecasting requirements of U.S.- based customers, including the U.S. Air Force, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, and NASA.

"The acquisition of Aerosonde is a perfect fit for our blueprint of strategically expanding our unmanned aircraft systems capabilities to meet the growing and diversified requirements of military, homeland security, and civilian markets," said Steven E. Reid, AAI's vice president of Unmanned Aircraft Systems.

"Aerosonde's unique capabilities fit very nicely with our own unmanned aircraft technologies as we have recently offered a candidate to meet the U.S. Marine Corps requirements for a Tier II tactical unmanned aircraft system in support of regimental and expeditionary unit operations," Reid added.

The acquisition of Aerosonde is not expected to have any significant short-term financial impact on UIC.

Aerosonde aircraft and systems are used for military and civil surveillance, meteorology, science experiments, and military systems development, operating in challenging environments from the tropics to the Arctic. Examples include:

-- During 2003, an Aerosonde UAV was used for Solomons Islands peacekeeping missions for the Australian Defence Force.

-- In May 2006, an Mk 4 Aerosonde UAV set an unofficial world flight-aloft endurance record of 38 hours and 48 minutes.

-- Last fall, an Aerosonde UAV performed a 10-hour flight for the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, providing the first- ever detailed observations of a tropical storm, operating in an environment often too dangerous for manned aircraft.

-- Aerosonde deployed a meteorological observation aircraft to the U.S. Air Force in Guam for the Weatherscout Program, for which the UAV flew 287 hours in 30 days.

AAI's best known unmanned aircraft system is the U.S. Army's highly regarded Shadow(R), which has surpassed a record milestone of 100,000 operational hours, 80 percent in support of warfighters in Operation Iraqi Freedom.

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