Skydio X10D

Skydio X10D earns spot on Blue UAS Cleared List

Another big name in the drone world has earned a spot on the U.S. Department of Defense’s (DoD) Blue sUAS (small uncrewed aerial systems) Cleared List. That’s the Skydio X10D, and it signals increased opportunity for Skydio to grow as one of the top American drone companies.

The DoD added the Skydio X10D drone to its Blue UAS list in late May 2024. Being on the Blue UAS Cleared List is a valuable distinction for a drone manufacturer. This list signifies that the drone meets the U.S. government’s strict cybersecurity and performance standards.

While government agencies are allowed to use drones that don’t have Blue UAS distinction, inclusion eases the process for government agencies to acquire and use the drone. That in turn saves time and paperwork — and makes it all the more likely that customers would use a drone like the Skydio X10D over a competitor without such a distinction. Especially among government and defense entities, which have stringent standards around the equipment they can use, Blue UAS is all but required.

What the Skydio’s X10D Blue UAS distinction means for Skydio

Skydio is already one of the biggest American drone companies. In fact, the California-based drone maker claims to be the largest manufacturer of small drones in the United States.

In the military space, it’s biggest competitor is generally Red Cat-owned Teal, which makes the Teal 2 drone. The Teal 2 earned a spot on the Blue UAS Cleared List roughly a year prior in June 2023.

In joining the Teal 2, Skydio has a leg up as the drone of choice, particularly in military use cases.

“This represents an important step forward in providing secure, autonomous uncrewed aerial systems to more U.S. defense operations,” said Mark Valentine, President of Global Government at Skydio, in a prepared statement. “As the only domestic company producing dual-use drones at scale for both the enterprise and defense sectors, Skydio is proud to get the X10D into the hands of our service members, providing a critical combat capability in a time of growing global threats.”

The Skydio X10D is the second generation of Skydio aircraft to qualify for the Blue UAS list. Another, similar drone, the Skydio X2D, already had a spot on the list.

But the X10D is considered a new and improved version of the Skydio X2D.

While the Skydio X2D is a proven military drone, the X10D boasts some key advantages for specific situations. The X10D prioritizes operation in challenging environments. It features a multi-band radio for jamming-resistant communication and a visual navigation system that keeps it flying without GPS. Additionally, the X10D integrates a high-resolution thermal imaging sensor for superior performance in low-light or obscured conditions.

What to know about the Skydio X10D drone

Skydio X10D

Much like the Teal 2, the Skydio X10D is targeting nighttime drone operations (which are common in military use cases including stealth reconnaissance). The X10D’s 48MP telephoto camera can identify a person from 2,400 feet away. It can even pick out a vehicle from 6,500 feet away.

The Skydio X10D stands out as the first drone to feature the Teledyne FLIR Boson+ sensor, which is a precise radiometric thermal camera, tuned for ISR (intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance) use both during the day and at night.

Other key Skydio X10D specs include:

  • ATAK integration
  • RAS-A compliance
  • Compact, modular airframe
  • Skydio NightSense (that’s an onboard AI that supports autonomous flight in low- or no-light environments)
  • Blackout mode (so the drone cannot be seen with the naked eye at night)

All of Skydio’s drones, including the Skydio X10D, also meet Buy American Act requirements. Under the Buy American Act, drones purchased with a federal grant generally must be able to prove that at least 65% of their parts were made in America. (That 65% threshold increases to 70% by year 2029.)

What other drones are on the Blue UAS Cleared list?

There are now more than two-dozen drones or other aerial platforms on the Blue UAS Cleared list. They include (this list names the company, and then the specific platform):

  • AgEagle: eBee TAC
  • Anduril: Ghost, Ghost X
  • Ascent Aerosystems: Spirit
  • Blue Halo: IE-V2 Jeti
  • Easy Aerial: Osprey
  • Flightwave: Edge 130
  • Freefly Systems: Alta X, Astro
  • Inspired Flight: IF 1200A, IF 1200, IF800, IF750
  • Parrot: Parrot ANAFI USA GOV, Parrot ANAFI USA MIL
  • PDW: C100
  • Skydio: X2D Color 1.8 GHz, X2D Color 5 GHz, Thermal 1.8 GHz, Thermal 5 GHz, X2D Multiband, X10D
  • Teal: Teal 2, Golden Eagle
  • Vantage: Vesper
  • Wingra: Wingtra One Gen II

Earning such a distinction is not easy. Each system on the above list underwent a cyber vulnerability assessment in accordance with the Risk Management Framework, was issued an associated Authority to Operate by DIU, and experienced a FY20 Section 848 NDAA compliance check. 

But the efforts are usually worth it. Generally, a spot on the list attributes to an increase in sales. And sure, the Blue UAS program is not an exclusive path for government validation of UAS. But, experts consider Blue UAS approval to be the most efficient method available for commercial systems. After all, once vetted by the Blue UAS On-Ramp effort, these drones do not require a continuous exception to DoD policy renewal. That’s critical in reducing the administrative burden on end users.

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