The US marine corps has decided to suspend a program to develop carrier-based drones MUX that would perform a wide range of tasks: from the transport of goods and intelligence to relay signals and radar detection. As writes Flightglobal, the military recognized requirements for advanced drones requirements are difficult to meet and decided to revise the program development apparatus. In part, this decision was taken under pressure from developers.
The tender for the development of a universal carrier-based drone program MUX was announced in March 2018. The military believed that the new devices will complement carrier-based heavy-lift helicopters CH-53K King Stallion, convertiplanes MV-22 Osprey and F-35B Lightning II. According to the requirement, Marines, a combat radius of new carrier-based drones should be from 350 to 700 nautical miles (1296 648 kilometers) payload. Drones cruising speed should be between 200 to 300 knots (370-555 kilometers per hour).
The original plan assumed that the initial operational readiness, i.e. the acceptance of the vehicles into service, will be announced in the middle of the 2020-ies. In particular, start to use drones project MUX on land was planned in 2025, and the ships from 2028. Full operational readiness (completion of delivery of all the ordered military vehicles and taking them to the combat strength) new drones would have to be achieved by 2034.
The intention to participate in the tender of the U.S. Marine corps said three American companies: Lockheed Martin, Northrop Grumman and Bell Helicopter. Two of them presented a preliminary draft of their carrier-based aircraft. So, Bell Helicopter introduced the draft of an unmanned tilt-rotor osprey V-247 Vigilant. It is created with the use of technologies promising tiltrotor V-280 Valor. In turn, Northrop Grumman planned to offer a military drone project “tailsitter”, the aircraft of vertical take-off and land on the tail.
Now, the U.S. Marine corps plans to revise the program MUX. In particular, the army intends the new program to order the development of a family of unmanned vehicles, each of which will perform its specific task. One of the devices will be developed for land-based and one for the ship. Other details on the new requirements of the military in the framework of the MUX were not disclosed.