infantry Marine to provide short-range surveillance for
his rifle squads.
The Marines already have a variety of Group 1 and 2
unmanned systems available at the platoon and company levels. And the Corps recently sent to sea the
RQ-21A Blackjack, a Group 3 UAS, with a deployed MEU.
The Blackjack, which can be launched and recovered
from an amphibious ship, will phase out the RQ-7B
Shadow that requires a short runway for recovery.
The quest for a large unmanned aircraft with the
myriad capabilities envisioned for MUX is just get-
ting started. But the Marines are hoping to accelerate
its acquisition in order to achieve initial operating
capability “inside of 10 years,” Barranco said. “That’s
pretty aggressive when you look at the standard acqui-
sition timeline, but I think there are ways we could
make that possible.”
The requirement for the MUX capabilities was vali-
dated by the Pentagon’s Joint Requirements Oversight
Council in October, and Marine leaders put a “seven-
figure investment” in research and development over
the next five years into the fiscal 2018 budget plan “to
make this a reality,” Barranco said. “That’s a serious
commitment, but that’s how serious the DCA [Davis]
is, and the commandant is, too. He wants a Group 5
An analysis of alternatives (AoA) for MUX is in its
early stages and is expected to be completed by the
end of fiscal 2018, Barranco said, which could lead to a
request for proposals to industry.
The Marines may be able to use some of the
recently adopted rapid fielding rules to shorten the
acquisition process, possibly allowing them to skip
Milestone A, which starts a technology maturation
process and preliminary design review, and enter
acquisition at Milestone B, which starts the engineering, development, testing and evaluation process
leading to award of a production contract. Entering at
Milestone B could save three years, he said.
That could be possible because there are developmental programs already under way, including the
Defense Advanced Research Project Agency and Office
of Naval Research Tactically Exploited Reconnaissance
Node (TERN) project, and several by aerospace firms,
including Bell Helicopter’s V-247 tiltrotor UAS, and by
General Atomics, a leading UAS producer, Barranco said.
“If you work off of a prototype like that, I think it’s
pretty easy to move to Milestone B, because a lot has
already been developed and tested,” he said. “If it’s a
clean-sheet design, that’s a little bit more challenging.”
Barranco conceded that getting one airframe that
could carry such a wide variety of payloads, including
A remotely piloted MQ- 9 Reaper operated by the New York Air National Guard’s 174th Attack Wing flies a training mission over central New York
on Oct 19. With the Marine Air-Ground Task Force (MAGTF) Unmanned Expeditionary Capabilities program, the U.S. Marine Corps is seeking its
first Group 5 unmanned aerial system, an aircraft the size of the MQ- 9 Reaper that has proven its “hunter-killer” capability with the U.S. Air Force.
WWW.SEAPOWERMAGAZINE.ORG 21 SEAPOWER MAY 2017 G