AeroVironment Acquires Group 2-3 UAS Provider Arcturus

Acturus UAV makes the JUMP 20.
Credit: Acturus UAV

AeroVironment on Jan. 13 announced its second major acquisition in as many months, unveiling a deal to buy Arcturus UAV, a privately-held provider of Group 2 and 3 unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) and contractor-owned services to military customers.

The $405 million deal, being funded through cash and stock, is designed to bring growth in part by adding adjacent customers to AeroVironment’s portfolio, representatives said. 

Arcturus is a U.S. Special Operations Command provider, supporting its $1.4 billion Medium Endurance Unmanned Aircraft System (MEUAS) III and IV programs. The manufacturer is also one of four awardees selected for funded development and demonstrations for the U.S. Army’s Future Tactical Unmanned Aerial System (FTUAS) program, a potential-billion-dollar, next-generation UAS program, according to AeroVironment.

Arcturus’ products include the JUMP-20, a multi-mission, medium endurance vertical takeoff and landing system that does not require launch equipment or runway, and the T-20, a multi-mission, medium endurance catapult-launched system. 

Arcturus sells its products directly to end users. All of its UAS can carry payloads including standard EO/IR gimbals, 3-D mapping, SAR, LIDAR, communications relay, COMINT and SIGINT systems.

“Combining our highly complementary products and technologies will enhance our portfolio, deliver top and bottom-line growth, and enable us to provide customers with a complete set of Group 1 through 3 UAS, tactical missile systems, high-altitude pseudo-satellites and unmanned ground vehicle solutions,” AeroVironment CEO and president Wahid Nawabi said.

Petaluma, California-based Arcturus has around 270 employees and was started in 2004. Arcturus UAV CEO and president D’Milo Hallerberg said: “AeroVironment’s depth of experience in UAS and tactical missile systems, international presence, and impressive team is a natural fit for Arcturus UAV, and will create substantial opportunities to build on our strong momentum.”

The takeover is expected to close during the fourth quarter of AeroVironment’s fiscal 2021, subject to customary closing conditions and regulatory approvals. At close, Arcturus will become a wholly-owned subsidiary of AeroVironment, with “key” members of its management staying on.

Regarding terms, AeroVironment said the $405 million price represents a deal multiple of roughly 11x Arcturus’ adjusted pretax earnings in the 12 months through September 2020, net of anticipated tax benefits. AeroVironment will pay $355 million in cash—including $155 million from existing cash and the rest via a new $200 million loan—and $50 million in AeroVironment stock.

AeroVironment previously announced Dec. 8, 2020, that it had struck a deal to acquire Telerob Gesellschaft für Fernhantierungstechnik, a German provider of unmanned ground vehicles for defense and security customers, for $45.4 million (€37.5 million) in cash.

Michael Bruno

Based in Washington, Michael Bruno is Aviation Week Network’s Executive Editor for Business. He oversees coverage of aviation, aerospace and defense businesses, supply chains and related issues.