U.S. Navy’s Future VTOL Drone Is Best-in-Class, Hovers and Stares Like No Other

Maximum versatility and minimal logistic support requirements are 2 of the main features the U.S. military is looking for when it comes to new assets, especially if we’re talking about unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) that need to deliver an increased payload quickly, in any type of environment. This is what the U.S. Navy found in the V-Bat 128, which is about to be publicly unveiled this weekend.
The V-Bat 128 can transition smoothly from sea to land environments 8 photos
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Earlier this year, Texas-based Martin UAV was one of the 13 contestants that responded to the Navy’s Mi2 Challenge and ended up being selected, together with L3Harris Technologies, to compete in a demonstration at the Yuma Proving Grounds, in Arizona. This is where the V-Bat 128, an innovative VTOL UAS (vertical takeoff and landing UAS), made an impression with its remarkable capabilities.

First of all, this aircraft was built from the start for deployment in both land-based and maritime operations, with its ability to easily transition from land to sea. Its maximum versatility means that it can operate in almost any type of environment, no need for a runway – it can takeoff from a small ground area or a ship. Plus, it doesn’t need any launch or recovery support equipment.

The V-Nat 128 is also as easy as it gets to assembly, transport and operate. According to Martin, it takes less than 30 minutes to assemble, it can be transported on the bed of a pickup truck, in a helicopter or a minivan, and only two people can set it up in no time. It’s also the safest UAS in its class, thanks to the duct fan propulsion design that eliminates exposed rotors.

This 9-foot (2.7 meters) long UAS, with a total weight of 125 lbs (56 kg), has a high, 11-hour endurance and comes with an increased payload capacity of 25 lbs (11 kg), including a wide variety of equipment and sensors.

Another feature that makes it stand out is the ability to switch from fixed-wing flight to hover, back and forth, without a drop in altitude – apparently, it’s the only UAS that can do that. Also, its sustained hover allows it to operate in tight city areas (known as urban canyons) or other difficult environments.

The Texas-based startup is currently working on customizing the V-Bat 128 for the U.S. Navy requirements. The VTOL UAS will be displayed at the Sea-Air-Space Conference in National Harbor, Maryland, starting tomorrow, until August 4.

press release

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