Back in 2016, the U.S. Marine Corps revealed plans for a new UAV called the Marine Air Ground Task Force Unmanned Aircraft System-Expeditionary, or MUX for short. Details on the system were scant at the time, but we now know a lot more thanks to a recently issued Request for Information (RFI) for the MUX drone.
MUX Drone Capabilities
According to the 35-page RFI, the MUX drone will ideally be able to reach a cruising speed between 200-300 kts with a full payload; have a combat radius of between 350-700 nautical miles with a full payload; and have a maximum payload capacity of 9,500 pounds.
In addition, the MUX should be capable of receiving aerial refueling; be compatible with L Class ships; be able to deploy to and from “austere” landing sites; and be capable of operating in all weather conditions.
As Military.com notes, the Corps wants the MUX to carry the following weapons to meet mission needs: AGM-114 Hellfire air-to-surface missiles; AIM-9X air-to-air missiles; Advanced Precision Kill Weapon System (APKWS) laser-guided rocket; AIM-120 Advanced Medium-Range Air-to-Air Missile (AMRAAM); and the AGM-88E Advanced Anti-Radiation Guided Missile (AARGM). Furthermore, small-diameter bombs and another, smaller UAV could be carried onboard.
Missions, Timeline & Contenders
The RFI says the MUX drone would primarily be used for early warning; intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance; electronic warfare; and communications relay. Tier 2 missions include offensive air support, aerial escort and cargo transportation.
The USMC wants the MUX to achieve early operational capability for land-based vertical takeoff and landing by 2025. Initial operational capability is desired by 2028 for a sea-based vertical takeoff and landing. The service hopes to achieve full operational capability by 2034.
Some of the companies likely to be contenders for the MUX drone contract include Bell with its V-247 Vigilant tilt rotor aircraft; Lockheed Martin and its ARES (Aerial Reconfigurable Embedded System); and Northrop Grumman and its TERN (Tactically Exploited Reconnaissance Node) UAV, Fox News reported. Military.com also throws Boeing and Piasecki Aircraft into the mix.