Sierra Nevada buys drone maker Volansi after VC funding dries up

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WASHINGTON — Sierra Nevada Corporation on Monday announced it has bought commercial drone maker Volansi in a cash deal.

Sierra Nevada’s purchase includes all of Volansi’s intellectual property and assets, including the company’s Voly-50 and Voly-T drones and its production facility in Bend, Oregon.

Tim Owings, executive vice president for mission solutions and technologies at Sierra Nevada, told reporters at the Association of the U.S. Army’s annual conference in Washington that Volansi lost its venture capital funding and went through a foreclosure. Negotiations on the sale started about two months ago, he said.

Owings declined to disclose the price of the transaction, noting only it was “significantly less” than what other drone companies have sold for recently. The deal closed Sept. 30, Sierra Nevada said.

Volansi will operate under a new name within Sierra Nevada to focus on the company’s unmanned aircraft operations, but will not be a subsidiary, Owings said. Sierra Nevada is still trying to decide on the new name.

Owings said about 30 key Volansi employees, including engineers, are also coming to the company after the purchase. Sierra Nevada will be adding more employees to this effort.

Volansi started with a focus on logistics drones but later moved into the defense world. Last December, the company teamed up with Sierra Nevada to work on the Army Future Tactical Unmanned Systems Increment 2 program, or FTUAS.

Because Sierra Nevada had already been working with Volansi, Owings said, they were a “natural fit” to buy the foundering company.

“From the very beginning, everyone saw this as the most viable outcome,” Owings said.

Hannan Parvizian, chief executive and co-founder of Volansi, will not be joining Sierra Nevada. When asked if Will Roper, the former Air Force acquisition chief who sat on Volansi’s board of directors, or any of Volansi’s other advisors would be coming, Owings said no, adding that the company has its own advisors.

Sierra Nevada will honor Volansi’s existing contracts with companies such as pharmaceutical firm Merck, according to Owings.

Stephen Losey is the air warfare reporter for Defense News. He previously covered leadership and personnel issues at Air Force Times, and the Pentagon, special operations and air warfare at Military.com. He has traveled to the Middle East to cover U.S. Air Force operations.


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Stephen Losey

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