Navy demonstrates unmanned resupply platforms

By Audrey Decker / November 9, 2021 at 3:00 PM

Navy and Marine Corps warfighters may soon be resupplied by unmanned platforms, Naval Air Systems Command announced today.

At the Naval Air Warfare Center Aircraft Division in St. Inigoes, MD, the service demonstrated resupply capabilities of the Tactical Resupply Unmanned Aircraft System and Blue Water logistics UAS.

TRUAS is a Marine-focused system used for tactical resupply onshore, while BWUAS is a Navy-focused system that has a longer range than TRUAS, but a smaller cargo capacity, according to NAVAIR.

The first mission demonstrated at the Oct. 27 event was an air drop using TRUAS and different payloads, NAVAIR stated.

The second part of the mission was BWUAS demonstrating a vertical takeoff and landing for an air drop, according to NAVAIR.

“Both the TRUAS and BWUAS teams are working closely with their Marine Corps and Military Sealift Command counterparts to rapidly bring these systems to the warfighter through innovative, non-traditional acquisition strategies. Both teams directly engaged with fleet users to understand what capability they need, and how they will use the capability in operation,” NAVAIR stated.

The Navy and Marine Corps Small Tactical UAS program office used other transaction authorities to quickly execute TRUAS and the system will be “delivered to Marines as part of an extended user assessment in summer 2022,” according to the press release.

“OTAs give the program the ability to make ongoing changes to the prototype based on the users’ input, significantly reducing development time compared to a traditional acquisition program,” according to the press release.

The Navy is also using OTAs to discuss the possibility of autonomous resupply at sea using BWUAS technology, NAVAIR said.

“Future system development will include improvements to the artificial intelligence and machine-learning technology required for autonomous ship-based recovery, folding wings for improved wind and deck handling, and in-flight battery charging,” NAVAIR said.