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US Army FTUAS win springboards Martin UAV to several new contracts

After advancing to the next round in the US Future Tactical Unmanned Aerial System (FTUAS) development contest, Martin UAV has won several other contracts for its V-Bat, a vertical-takeoff-and-landing, tail-sitting unmanned air vehicle (UAV).

The company is currently negotiating a research, development, test, and evaluation contract with the US Navy (USN) and US Marine Corps’ (USMC) Warfighting Laboratory, it says at the Association of the US Army exposition in Washington, DC on 16 October.

“Because of the Army contract, [interest] has really exploded,” says Heath Niemi, vice-president of global sales. “It's kind of a catalyst.”

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V-Bat lands on US Naval Forces Southern Command's expeditionary fast transport ship Spearhead in March 2019

US Navy

The USN and USMC don’t have any particular requirement or programme of record, but are looking long term at replacing their Boeing Insitu ScanEagle and RQ-21 Blackjack, says Martin UAV.

As part of a separate effort, the company tested landing its V-Bat on US Naval Forces Southern Command’s expeditionary fast transport ship Spearhead in March 2019.

“That was just a capabilities test to ensure that our new landing feature can track and autonomously land with no controls on to a moving ship based on this [QR code placed on the ship deck],” says Tae Kim, chief operating officer of Martin UAV. “Now, we're in an operational environment, operating off a ship.”

The V-Bat is being used for counter-narcotics surveillance missions in the Caribbean and Eastern Pacific, according to the USN.

Additionally, Martin UAV says it has made a sale to a US ally, which it declines to name. And, it says it is pitching for the Australian Army’s Textron RQ-7 Shadow replacement programme.

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