Marines revisit UAS Group 5 requirements on board ships after industry warnings of high cost


The Office of Naval Research and DARPA are collaborating on Project Tern to give small forward-deployed vessels the ability to serve as mobile launch and recovery sites for medium-altitude, long-endurance unmanned aerial systems that would provide ISR and other capabilities. DARPA rendering.

SAN DIEGO – The Marine Corps is re-examining the requirements for its Amphibious Ship-Based Large Unmanned Air System (UAS), after early industry contributions showed the service was heading for something too big and too much dear, said the deputy commander for the development and integration of combat. journalists today.

Lt. Gen. Robert Walsh said the Navy Air-Ground Task Force (MAGTF) ​​Expeditionary UAS (MUX) program proves why industry’s contribution during the requirements generation process is so important. The MUX Initial Capabilities Document (ICD) made its way through the Joint Requirements Oversight Board process in October 2016 because the Marines were able to prove they were looking for a capability that was not already in the force. joint – in particular, a large group 4 or 5 UAS capable of operating from a ship or small expeditionary airfield and conducting intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR) missions.

What the JROC did not see, however, what the industry recently told the Marine Corps is that the requirements lend themselves to an MV-22 Osprey type vehicle in terms of size and cost, a Walsh told reporters after speaking at the WEST 2018 event, co-hosted by the US Naval Institute and AFCEA.

The MUX program merges what were previously two requirements and covers seven mission areas, according to USNI News: MAGTF C4 (Command, Control, Communications and Computing with Spectrum Agile Data Routing); early warning; persistent fires; escort; electronic warfare; reconnaissance, intelligence, surveillance and acquisition of targets (RISTA); and tactical distribution.

“If you look at the LPDs (San Antonio class) that have come out, often doing their own operations – could be out of Africa, somewhere doing operations – they need ISR capability. organic, ”Walsh said.
“When you look at our LHAs, our big bridge, our ARG / MEU (Amphibious Readiness Groups / Maritime Expeditionary Units), I think we are missing a platform that can go against this kind of threat: at long range, airborne early warning, a [electronic warfare] capacities, ISR capacities. The DCI that we wrote was really global: we called it a Group 4 or a Group 5 that could have logistics capabilities with it, so we started to really work with the ICD subcontractors and what we were getting from them was, boy, this is a pretty large capacity – this is going to be big and it is going to be expensive. They were almost looking to develop a V-22 unmanned aircraft of size and cost. So we looked at that and said, okay, that’s why we need to work more with industry as we develop requirements.

Ultimately, the Marine Corps decided that the industry was already investing in sophisticated unmanned logistics systems, which the service learned through its efforts in Sea Dragon experimentation. So the unmanned airborne logistics part will likely be separated from the MUX and handled by other means, Walsh said.

Narrowing the scope of MUX requirements will allow more time and attention to be spent on other trades: “Should he escort a V-22?” Should he be armed? These are the kinds of things we’re going to have to factor in and figure out the cost and what do we really need, ”Walsh said.
“What we really need is an unmanned system from an ARG / MEU, which could also be from the LPD or LX (R), which can have airborne early warning capabilities and ‘Long-term SRI that we don’t have now. “

Walsh said his colleague, Deputy Aviation Commander Lt. Gen. Steven Rudder, wanted to post a request for information about the MUX program soon, but Walsh hopes to organize an industry symposium first to better inform the requirements before Rudder takes over the acquisition of the program. . The symposium, likely to be held in a month or two, will take insights from the industry and help shape the upcoming Analysis of Alternatives (AoA).

“What we want to do is give AoA a much better start, because we’re already hearing… industry, you ask too much, it’s going to cost too much. And I’m going, well, why should I start AoA if they already tell me? Said Walsh.
“So we want to take the time, take a break, be with them and start the AoA with the right requirements before moving forward.”


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