Wednesday, August 31, 2016

USMC aiming for 'shipboard capable and expeditionary' UAS

The US Marine Corps (USMC) is pushing ahead with a 'shipboard capable and expeditionary' unmanned aerial system (UAS) programme, and pushing back against arguments that it could instead field existing unmanned platforms.
A so-called MAGTF Unmanned Expeditionary Capabilities (MUX) programme aims to provide Marine Expeditionary Force units with a 'Group 5' UAS capability - such as the US Air Force and US Army General Atomics Aeronautical Systems Inc MQ-9 Reaper and MQ-1 Predator UAS - but without the need for runways.
"If you look at operations we've done, we leverage the joint force's Group V UASs … but we're trying to get something that would come from the ship to support our marines," Lieutenant General Robert Walsh, head of Marine Corps Combat Development Command, told reporters during a 30 August breakfast meeting.
The system needs to operate from an 'expeditionary environment' even after it is ashore, and therefore not reply on airfields to continue supporting marines.
"That could be a tiltrotor capability; there are a lot of different developmental capabilities out there," Lt Gen Walsh said, noting the US Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) is progressing its Tactically Exploited Reconnaissance Node (TERN), a tail-sitting, shipborne system.
A MUX initial capabilities document (ICD) is "marching through the Joint Staff right now", and if leadership approves the document it could become an official development programme.  more