Joint Forces Journal is published privately, and in no way is connected with DoD, the U.S. Army, Navy, Air Force or Coast Guard. This website and the printed newspaper are intended for the members of the Armed Forces and their families. Contents do not necessarily reflect official views of the U.S. Government, the Department of Defense or the U.S. Army, Navy, Air Force or Coast Guard, and do not imply endorsements thereof. The marital status, physical handicap, political affiliation, or any other non-merit factor of the purchases, user or patron for advertisers prohibited. If a violation or rejection of this equal opportunity policy by an advertiser is confirmed, the publisher shall refuse to print advertising from that source until the violation is corrected. Editorial content is prepared and edited privately, and is provided by the Public Affairs Office of U.S. Army, Navy, Air Force and Coast Guard installations. Correspondence and material for publication should be addressed to: Editor, Joint Forces Journal, P.O. Box 13283, Oakland, CA, 94661-0283. Deadline for receiving articles and photos is 3 p.m. Monday for publication on Friday of that week. Joint Forces Journal editorial policy is to use bylines and photo credits where applicable and when submitted.
Marines Release Specifications for New Mega-Drone
Mar 16, 2018
by Hope Hodge Seck
The Marine Corps is a step closer to getting a large unmanned aircraft that can launch from ships, fly a radius of up to 700 nautical miles with a full payload, escort the MV-22 Osprey and other platforms, network with other manned platforms, and provide offensive air support, including targeting and strike.
This incredible unmanned aerial system is known as MUX, for Marine Air Ground Task Force Unmanned Aircraft System-Expeditionary.
Marine officials began publicly discussing plan to design and build MUX in 2016. Late that year, Lt. Gen. Jon Davis, then head of Marine Corps aviation, described MUX as a Group 5 aircraft that could carry all the weapons on an F-35B, fly at 30,000 feet, and provide key electronic warfare and command-and-control capabilities.
"If we do distributed operations, we're going to need all the game we can bring," Davis said at the time.
According to the 35-page request for information, the Corps wants an aircraft capable of carrying internal and external payloads totaling 9,500 pounds.
Weapons the service wants MUX to carry for various missions include AGM-114 Hellfire air-to-surface missiles; AIM-9X air-to-air missiles; the advanced precision kill weapon system (APKWS) laser-guided rocket; the AIM-120 Advanced Medium-Range Air-to-Air Missile, or AMRAAM; the AGM-88E Advanced Anti-Radiation Guided Missile (AARGM); small-diameter bombs; and an expendable unmanned aerial vehicle for early warning and electronic warfare.
Top-priority missions for the MUX include early warning; intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance; electronic warfare; and communications relay. Secondary missions include offensive air support, aerial escort and cargo transportation, according to the document.
The Corps also wants an aircraft that can take off vertically, fit on a ship with a similar footprint to a UH-1Y Venom, receive aerial refueling, and put down in austere landing zone, the RFI states.
The document provides a better timeline for when the Marine Corps wants to see the aircraft become a reality. The service wants early operational capability by 2025 for a land-based takeoff configuration, with initial operational capability for sea-based vertical takeoff and landing by 2028. Full operational capability is requested by 2034.
Among companies that have expressed interest in filling the MUX requirement are Bell, with the V-280 Valor tiltrotor aircraft; Piasecki Aircraft, with its affordable reconfigurable embedded system, or ARES; and Boeing, with a tail-sitting design.
Shortly before his retirement, Davis pushed back on the suggestion that the Corps wanted too much out of the MUX program. He pointed to other now-operational aircraft platforms, saying they also seemed out of reach before they became reality.
"V-22, impossible? Nope. F-35B, impossible? Nope. Very possible, very doable, very good," he said. "Bottom line, the engineering -- this is not a pie in the sky. This is very doable."
* * * * *
Photo caption: Bell V-247 Vigilant (Image: Bell Helicopters)
© Copyright 2018 Military.com.