Sierra Nevada buys drone maker Volansi after VC funding dries up

WASHINGTON — Sierra Nevada Corporation announced Monday that it has purchased commercial drone maker Volansi in an all-cash deal.

The Sierra Nevada 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 of mission solutions and technology at Sierra Nevada, told reporters at the Association of the U.S. Army’s annual conference in Washington that Volansi lost venture capital funding and suffered an input. Negotiations on the sale began about two months ago, he said.

Owings declined to disclose the price of the transaction, noting only that it was “significantly lower” than what other drone companies have sold recently. The deal was completed on September 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, would also join the company after the purchase. Sierra Nevada will add more employees to this effort.

Volansi started out focusing on logistics drones, but then moved into the defense world. Last December, the company partnered with Sierra Nevada to work on the Army Future Tactical Unmanned Systems Increment 2, or FTUAS, program.

Because Sierra Nevada had worked with Volansi before, Owings said, they were a “good choice” to buy the bankrupt company.

“From the start, 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 served on Volansi’s board of directors, or any of Volansi’s other advisers would come, Owings said no, adding that the company had its own advisers.

Sierra Nevada will honor Volansi’s existing contracts with companies such as pharmaceutical company 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 traveled to the Middle East to cover US Air Force operations.

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