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unhappycamper Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Feb-05-09 08:23 AM
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Marines Explore New UAS Designs
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Marines Explore New UAS Designs
Aviation Week's DTI | Amy Butler | February 04, 2009

The U.S. Marine Corps is drafting a wish list of capabilities associated with two future unmanned aerial systems (UAS).

The first is notionally called the Group 4 UAS, the first of its kind as the Marine Corps shifts from its old "tiered" system of classifying into new groups, according to Maj. Thomas Heffern, of the service's UAS Capabilities Office. He spoke Feb. 3 at the AUVSI's annual Program Review conference in Washington.

Group 4 would likely be the only one of its kind solely procured by the amphibious-assault-oriented service, and thereby optimized for its future mission needs. The trade space is wide as the Marines examine their options. The system's mission isn't yet defined, but it is possible it could pick up some electronic warfare, electronic surveillance and - possibly - electronic attack missions after the retirement of the EA-6B, Heffern says.

Endurance is desired at between 14-30 hours, with a notional radius of 350-450 nautical miles. This system might be weaponized to reduce the time to engage targets, and would need to haul at least 1,500 pounds of payload. The Marines place an emphasis on developing a UAS that emit less noise at operating altitude to help hide their operations.

One major question ahead as the Marines define the Group 4 UAS is whether it will conduct vertical takeoff and landing or require short, austere runways for operation, Heffern says.

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