Sierra Nevada Hikes UAV Business With Volansi Acquisition

Voly 50


Credit: Volansi

Sierra Nevada Corp. (SNC) is moving into the original equipment manufacturer world for large uncrewed aircraft, announcing Oct. 10 it has acquired the UAV portfolio and intellectual property (IP) from Volansi.

Volansi, a venture capital-backed startup that went into foreclosure, produced the Voly-50 and Voly-T series of uncrewed aerial vehicles. SNC says the large Voly-50—a multirole, long-range vertical takeoff UAV—is directly relevant for ongoing programs such as the U.S. Army’s Future Tactical Unmanned Aircraft System (FTUAS), along with efforts for the U.S. Navy to provide maritime logistics as well as work for U.S. Special Operations Command and the UK.

“What they were focused on and why we got really involved in them was they had been focused on this logistics delivery piece, we were handling the defense piece, and so it’s sort of a natural progression for us,” says Tim Owings, executive vice president of SNC’s mission solutions and technologies. 

Under the procurement, SNC is taking over Volansi’s Bend, Oregon, facility and employees. The company is not disclosing the dollar amount, saying it is lower than the acquisition of other similar UAV companies. It is SNC’s 21st acquisition, the company says.

Owings says SNC will honor all of Volansi’s existing contracts but will eventually end production of its smaller UAVs to focus on larger systems that have direct military use. 

The Voly-50 bridges the gap between larger UAVs like the MQ-9 Reaper and smaller systems, and SNC owning the IP and production will improve the company’s future development outlook—it is easier than simply trying to buy an MQ-9 off the production line, Owings says. 

“This gives us a chance to showcase not only the OEM aspect of that, but also our tech, which we really want to show because as we sell individual items we don’t get to show the integrated solution, and that’s something that’s very important to us,” Owings says. 

Three of the Voly-50 aircraft have been built. It is designed to carry a 50-lb. payload about 270 mi. SNC says it has a modular, open systems architecture and is operated by a controller created by SNC subsidiary Kutta Technologies Inc. 

SNC says if it can progress with programs such as the Army’s FTUAS, it will have the capacity to increase production of the aircraft to about one per day—if there are contracts.

Brian Everstine

Brian Everstine is the Pentagon Editor for Aviation Week, based in Washington, D.C. Before joining Aviation Week in August 2021, he covered the Pentagon for Air Force Magazine. Brian began covering defense aviation in 2011 as a reporter for Military Times.