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Air Platforms

USMC seeks medium- and long-range/endurance ISTAR UAVs

24 February 2020
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The USMC’s MR/ME requirement of 10 km/2 h is in the range of the AeroVironment RQ-11B Raven (10 km/3 h). Source: AeroVironment

The US Marine Corps (USMC) is looking to field two new unmanned aircraft systems (UASs) for intelligence, surveillance, target acquisition, and reconnaissance (ISTAR), according to requests for information (RFI) issued on 21 February.

The two separate RFIs posted by the Department of the Navy call for a medium-range/medium-endurance (MR/ME) and a long-range/long-endurance (LR/LE) UAS. The RFIs define MR/ME and LR/LE as 10 km/2 h and 20 km/4 h respectively.

In both cases, the Program Executive Officer, Strike Weapons and Unmanned Aviation (PEO [U/W]), Navy and Marine Corps Small Tactical Unmanned Aircraft Systems Program Office (PMA-263), is looking for a system that is capable of providing ISTAR services during day and night operations in all environmental conditions.

"The system should be rugged and ready to use as delivered with minimal logistic, training and support requirements. The system should provide real-time full motion video via electro-optical [EO] and/or infrared [IR] sensors. The air vehicles (AV) should be capable of autonomous or a safe manual launch with a minimum of support equipment from a small confined area, and should be capable of either a manual or an autonomous recovery within the same area as launch. The recovery method should be adequate to prevent system damage and allow for short turn-around times between missions. The ground control station (GCS) should be man-portable and consist of the necessary equipment to monitor the sensor(s) position and status, control its movement, and view its video", the RFIs stated.

Both the medium- and long-range AVs should be capable of short-field operations and/or vertical take-off and landing (VTOL), and be battery-powered. The smaller medium-range AV should have a take-off weight of less than 20 lb (9.07 kg), while the long-range system should be less than 55 lb (24.95 kg).

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