WASHINGTON — Martin UAV is marketing a vertical take-off and landing unmanned aerialvehicle, V-Bat, that can take flight from an upright position and transition to horizontal in flight. Think of a Harrier or V-22 Osprey, only a drone.

The 84-pound drone can stay on station for 8-plus hours at 45 knots, has a range of about 350 miles and can fly up to 15,000 feet. It can dash up to 90 knots. The drone is designed to be modular, with different sensors fitting into the nose section of the aircraft, said Heath Niemi, vice president of global sales and development for Martin UAV.

“The payload is in the nose, so it‘s designed to take the payload off, put a newpayload on, so if you need [electro-optical and infrared systems], laser designator, whatever you need,” Niemi said.

The company also lists signals intelligence, short-wave infrared and 4G LTE links among the compatible payloads. The V-Bat, which is easily transportable, could be useful in a search-and-rescue situation, for example, because its vertical take-off and landing, or VTOL, capability.

“If a search-and-rescue helicopter is out there for eight hours looking for somebody, you might as well do this,” he said. “It’s 23 pounds of fuel.” The drone runs 500 watts of power and runs off JP-8 or a gasoline/oil mix. The whole rig comes in two boxes, including the drone, the ground-control station and the telemetry system. The drone can also hand off control to other operators, such as on a ship.

“It’s completely tactical; you can put in the back of a Humvee, a ship — it’s got a small footprint,” Niemi said. “You don’t have any launchers or any other equipment.” The V-Bat will be making an appearance at the Navy and Marine Corps’ massive biennial Bold Alligator exercise. The Army, Navy and Marine Corps have all expressed interest in the UAV.

The 84-lb drone can stay on station for 8-plus hours at 45 knots, has a range of about 350 miles, and can fly up to 15,000 ft. It can dash up to 90 knots.


David B. Larter was the naval warfare reporter for Defense News. Before that, he reported for Navy Times.

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