The U.S. Marine Corps has selected 11 companies to explore airframe and software models for the military service’s proposed unmanned aerial system with a vertical takeoff and landing feature, National Defense Magazine reported Friday.
USMC and Naval Air Systems Command officials started to visit factories after the service branch hosted an industry day for the Marine Air-Ground Task Force UAS Expeditionary project in June.
Col. James Frey, head of the UAS branch at USMC’s aviation, weapons and requirements office, told the publication he envisions a “runway-independent” drone that would perform air support, intelligence, surveillance, reconnaissance, early warning and communications transmission functions.
He added the service looks to equip the MUX platform with Hellfire missiles, an advanced precision kill weapon system or laser-guided rockets and bombs.
The report noted that USMC plans to conduct an analysis of alternatives through fiscal 2019 and aims to issue a request for proposals by the end of the next fiscal year or in early 2020.