Marvel is a short take-off and short landing, unmanned aerial vehicle being developed by Matra BAe Dynamics of France and UK and Freewing Aerial Robotics of USA.
Marvel is based on the Scorpion Air Vehicle, which is used for electronic countermeasures and for detection, identification and designation of surface targets, and has automatic launch and recovery.
The current development work being carried out by Matra BAe Dynamics under contract to the French Ministry of Defence and in collaboration with the US company Freewing Aerial Robotics, is directed to the feasibility of an automatic launch and recovery system for application to naval platforms.
A main feature of the system is the variable geometry wing. The wing is connected to the fuselage by bearings pivoted on a shaft and configured to maintain a constant angle of incidence to the shaft. The configuration provides the advantage of eliminating stalling, automatic absorption of turbulence and a high degree of longitudinal stability, together with a naturally lightweight and stable air frame and reduced maintenance cost and time penalties.
The vehicle is capable of almost vertical, very slow flight and extremely steep descent angles. This capability allows Marvel to be launched and recovered from very small areas and also allows very slow passes over critical enemy targets.
The system can be pre-programmed before launch or can be controlled in flight using a 32-channel command and control uplink which interfaces to the on-board systems via an RS-232 serial port. The downlink is a 32-channel telemetry link providing radio and imagery for navigation and situation data.