Lockheed Martin has unveiled a vertical take-off and landing (VTOL) Stalker Extended Endurance (XE) unmanned aerial system (UAS) at the Special Operations Forces Industry Conference (SOFIC) on 22 May.
The Stalker XE VTOL has been designed as a Group 2 UAS evolution of the original air frame, providing operators with an added launch/recovery capability for increased mission flexibility in more austere environments.
Maggie Macfarlane, head of strategy and customer requirements, advanced development programmes at Lockheed Martin’s Skunk Works, told Jane’s the XE VTOL could reduce logistics footprints and cut requirements for pneumatic rail and bungee launch systems used by legacy models.
The XE VTOL has a gross weight of less than 30 lb and is capable of carrying a 5 lb payload. It has an expansion bay that, according to Macfarlane, could be used to house signals intelligence antennas and payloads. The VTOL element is provided by two pairs of rotor blades attached to each wing.
Macfarlane said the XE VTOL could not be heard on the ground when operating at an altitude of 700 ft or higher above ground level. She added that it could be operated for up to eight hours with a propane fuel cell; and up to four hours with battery option.
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