Update: US Navy acquires Skyways aircraft prototype for Blue Water Maritime Logistics UAS

by Pat Host The US Navy (USN) in October acquired a logistics unmanned aerial system (UAS) prototype developed by Skyways of Austin, Texas, to demonstrate long-range naval ship-to-ship and ship-to-shore cargo transport. Naval Air Warfare Center Aircraft Division (NAWCAD) engineers, testers, and military test pilots are evaluating the commercially-procured aircraft, called the Blue Water Maritime Logistics UAS.

The division is also tailoring it to requirements set by Military Sealift Command (MSC) and Fleet Forces Command (FFC), according to a Naval Air Systems Command (NAVAIR) statement.

The Skyways Group 3 aircraft selected by the US Navy for its Blue Water Maritime Logistics UAS programme. (Skyways) The USN solicited offerors to demonstrate potentially viable platforms that existed commercially. Industry was required to prove its UAS could autonomously transport a 9 kg payload to a moving ship 40 km away without refuelling.

More than 65 UAS platforms were analysed for this effort with two systems deemed technically advanced enough to partially meet the requirements. Bill Macchione, the Blue Water's project lead, was quoted by NAVAIR as saying that naval cargo transport requires vehicles that can successfully operate through difficult environments that include high winds, open water, and pitching vessels at sea. The USN said that historic data from casualty reports show that ships often move to non-mission capable or partially mission capable status due to logistics-related issues.

These issues include electronic parts or assemblies, 90% of which are logistical deliveries weighing less than 23 kg. Tactical aircraft, such as the Bell Boeing V-22 Osprey tiltrotor, currently fly these missions. Already a Janes subscriber?

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The US Navy (USN) in October acquired a logistics unmanned aerial system (UAS) prototype developed b...

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