The US Marine Corps remains on track for a 2020 down-select for its Marine Unmanned Expeditionary (MUX) UAV, which is seen as being a critical part of its future capability to carry out networked expeditionary combat operations. At a meeting with industry at the Marine Corps base at Quantico, Virginia, on June 6–7, the Marines described their desired performance as similar to the MQ-1 Predator, but capable of operating from unimproved airfields and amphibious warfare ships, although the programme’s requirements and cost caps will not be approved until an analysis of alternative systems study is concluded later this year.
The Marines have identified the four highest-priority Tier 1 missions for a MUX design as being airborne early warning, intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance, electronic warfare and communications relay. The wide range of missions means podded mission configurations along with a basic but high-endurance platform appear to be what the Marines are looking for. Offensive air support was identified as among the secondary Tier 2 missions, although the ability to designate targets is included in Tier 1. David C Isby