Martin UAV is developing a new version of its V-Bat mini vertical takeoff and landing (VTOL) unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) that will feature increased endurance and payload capacity, according to a company official.
Heath Niemi, Martin UAV vice president of global sales and development, told Janes on 12 November that the company has a prototype of the new V-Bat that has flown, but he declined to provide further specifics. Martin UAV has provided the V-Bat to the US Army for its Future Tactical Unmanned Aerial System (FTUAS) demonstration. The V-Bat also recently demonstrated shipboard integration in support of a US Southern Command (SOUTHCOM) counter narcotics mission off the coasts of Central America and northern South America from October 2019-July 2020.
Niemi said this SOUTHCOM mission, in which the V-Bat flew 273 sorties over 1,341 flight hours, was the first operational deployment of the V-Bat and demonstrated a unique maritime niche for the aircraft. The V-Bat can autonomously turn into winds, which Niemi said is critical for shipborne operations as winds shift constantly.
The V-Bat features an innovative design with a ducted-fanbased pusher propulsion system attached at the end of the fuselage. The single rotor propulsion system helps the aircraft to transition from vertical to horizontal fixed-wing flight during any mission.
Martin UAV lists the V-Bat as suitable for a range of intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance (ISR) applications including shipboard surveillance, anti-piracy patrols, and aerial mapping, among others, according to Janes All the World’s Aircraft: Unmanned.