Thursday, October 27, 2016

Davis: Marines Want VTOL Drone Before FVL « Breaking Defense - Defense industry news, analysis

Davis: Marines Want VTOL Drone Before FVL « Breaking Defense - Defense industry news, analysis: There’s money in the 2018 budget to develop a new sea-based, armed vertical takeoff and landing (VTOL) drone the size of the Air Force’s MQ-9 Reaper, Marine Corps deputy commandant for aviation, Lt. Gen. Jon “Dog” Davis, says. Davis expects to see them in the inventory well before the Army-led Future Vertical Lift program produces new manned VTOLs.

“It’s not outside the realm of possibility we will have technology demonstrators next year,” Davis told the Association of Unmanned Vehicles Systems International defense conference on Wednesday.

Davis also revealed that, in addition to Bell Helicopter’s proposed V-247 Vigilant and Northrop Grumman’s TERN, among the contenders for what the Marine Corps calls the MUX program is a tiltrotor drone being offered by Karem Aircraft, whose president and namesake, Abraham Karem, invented the Predator drone built by General Atomics. MUX is an acronym that stands for Marine Air Ground Task Force Unmanned Aerial System Expeditionary.

Some in the Pentagon have argued that the Marines don’t need a sea-based drone with capabilities akin to the Air Force’s Reaper, a Medium Altitude Long Endurance (MALE) fixed-wing drone that can carry four AGM-114 Hellfire missiles and two 500-lb. guided bombs. Davis said in reply: “Absolutely we do. And we’re going to get it.”

The drone he envisions, Davis said, must be VTOL to operate from ships but also to deploy in austere locations ashore where Marines often operate. The MUX also could be used for a wide range of missions, he said, from escorting V-22 Osprey tiltrotor transports to providing Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance (ISR) to ground troops and ships or flying 24/7 picket line guard missions around amphibious ready groups carrying Marine Expeditionary Units (MEUs).