Lockheed Martin has secured a $4.6m contract for the continued development of a maritime canister-launched small unmanned aircraft system (sUAS) for the US forces.
Currently, the company is working on a re-configurable version of the collapsible wing Vector Hawk, that is designed to support a man-packable all-in-one solution.
It will include a fixed-wing aircraft for standard and long endurance missions; a collapsible fixed-wing aircraft that can be launched from a tube, from land or water; a vertical takeoff and landing aircraft, and a tilt-rotor enabling vertical take-off and landing (VTOL), with transition to forward flight.
Lockheed Martin Unmanned Solutions business development director Jay McConville said: "We are extending our sUAS capabilities to tactical maritime users with the Vector Hawk's innovative canister deployment and launch ability."
According to Lockheed, Vector Hawk will be able to perform autonomous flight and landing, which shifts the operational focus from flying the aircraft to conducting the mission.
Moreover, the system incorporates fail-safes to ensure it can safely return to the user or auto-land when situations such as loss of communications with the ground control station or low power occur.
Built with open architecture, the system will be able to accommodate rapid technology and payload integration.
The system is also inaudible at operational slant ranges, and its data link features a high-bandwidth software-defined radio, mesh networking (including 3G, 4G, and LTE cellular), and over-the-air reconfiguration.
Image: Vector Hawk will support canister and hand launch requirements for US forces. Photo: courtesy of Lockheed Martin Corporation.