Marine Corps inks deal for drone that would deliver bullets to far-off troops
Stars and Stripes April 21, 2023
The Marine Corps wants an aerial cargo drone capable of delivering ammunition to the battlefield from up to 100 miles away.
The service awarded a contract to the tech company Leidos to develop a prototype drone that can fly 300 to 600 pounds of supplies to its forces, the Reston, Va.-based company said in a statement this week.
The goal is for a single “SeaOnyx” prototype to be made within 18 months and perform a logistics distribution mission, the statement said.
Phenix Solutions, a McMinnville, Ore.-based company, also is part of the SeaOnyx project, the Leidos statement said Tuesday.
The contract value is slightly more than $14 million, a statement from the Navy’s Unmanned Aviation and Strike Weapons program said Friday.
The deal follows other efforts from the military to produce cargo drones for the battlefield.
The Marine Corps flew the first combat resupply mission using a robot helicopter in 2011, Wired reported at the time.
Last month, the service showed off a cargo drone system that can carry 150 pounds of supplies over a 9-mile distance.
The short-range, autonomous cargo drone uses waypoints to navigate to its target, the Marine Corps statement said. It’s expected to be deployable by fall and the Marines are developing a new job field specialty to work with the drone, the statement said.
The Air Force is also developing autonomous cargo drones, while the Navy is testing ship-to-ship drone deliveries. The Army last year tested a medical supply drone as part of research to get blood to wounded troops as quickly as possible.