The plan calls for shifting that training to the training VMU no later than fiscal 2017.
Unmanned Aircraft System Officers, who have included rated Marine pilots or naval flight officers (NFOs), can
receive training at the Air Force’s Remotely Piloted
Aircraft schools. As the MQ-21s take on greater electronic
warfare missions, the plan calls for moving NFOs trained
in electronic warfare (EW) from the EA-6B electronic
warfare units, which will be phased out as the F-35B
Lightning II joint strike fighters become operational.
Those EW-trained officers will be in greater demand
when the larger and more capable MQ-X vehicles
become operational. The plan calls for developing the
MQ-X in a “cost-effective” manner “by leveraging joint
requirement,” which apparently means taking advantage of Army and Air Force programs.
The plan says the MQ-X will be “shipboard compati-
ble and expeditionary” and capable of operating “within
an anti-access/area denial (A2/AD) environment.”
“In the cyber/EW role, MQ-‘X’ will contribute to the
aviation combat element’s ability to deliver unmanned
non-kinetic effects, supporting commanders at the tacti-
cal, operational, and strategic level. MQ-‘X’ will also
carry network relay payloads that will help create and
extend the MAGTF’s tactical networks,” the plan says.
Although the Marines conducted joint tests with the
Army on arming the Shadow, Greenberg said the Corps
currently has no plans to arm any of its unmanned aerial vehicles in the next five years. The MQ-X functions
still are being developed, he said.
MQ-X field user evaluations started in 2014, supported by Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency
efforts. Initial production is expected to start in 2022,
with initial operational capability in 2024.
The Marines also are conducting analysis on a Cargo
Resupply UAS, following the operational use of the K-MAX unmanned helicopter for nearly 30 months in
Afghanistan. The Kaman-built helo, given unmanned
capabilities by Lockheed Martin, carried more than 4. 4
million pounds of cargo to Marine outposts in more
than 1,800 sorties, flying preprogramed routes.
A K-MAX will be used for additional evaluation and
testing at VMX- 22, according to the air plan.
A major goal for all the services that employ UAS is
a common system to control the air vehicles and
receive and process the intelligence they collect. The
Marines’ three SUASs, all built by the same company,
use a common man-portable controller-receiver.
Shadows require an air vehicle operator and a payload operator working at a bulky ground control station, mounted in the back of a High Mobility
Multipurpose Wheeled Vehicle, or Humvee.
The MQ- 21 is operated from a ground-control station that resembles a desktop computer, which can be
transported in two ruggedized cases.
But the air plan details an on-going program to devel-
op a Universal Mission Operations System (UMOS),
which it calls the “Cockpit for the Unmanned Aircraft
Commander,” and is expected to be “digitally interoper-
able with all UAS.”
“UMOS will fuse information collected from the Air
Vehicle with information from other Tactical Data Sys-
tems,” the plan says. “Beginning with Link 16, and quick-
ly growing to encompass Variable Message Format,
Advanced Field Artillery Tactical Data System, Theater
Battle Management Core System and Blue Force Tracker
2, the UMOS will provide the Unmanned Aircraft Com-
mander and the supported unit with an integrated picture
of the battlefield. This will enhance the ability of the
MAGTF to integrate intelligence and fires with maneuver,
and streamline the kill chain.
“The UMOS enables the full capability of the digi-
tally interoperable VMU. Incorporating the UMOS
into a program of record is imperative for the UAS
The plan says Marine aviation also “will pursue
VTOL (vertical takeoff and landing) and nano-VTOL
and Lethal Miniature Aerial Munition System capabili-
ty” for its SUAS systems. ;
WWW.SEAPOWERMAGAZINE.ORG 56 SEAPOWER / MAY 2015
A Marine with the 24th Marine Expeditionary Unit launch-es an RQ-11B Raven unmanned aircraft system during a
field training exercise at Udairi Range, Kuwait, Feb. 20.
Under the Marine Corps’ future unmanned air systems
plan, most of the current family of small, hand-launched
air vehicles like the Raven will be retained.