Leidos team demos cargo drone prototype for US Navy and Marine Corps

Leidos team demos cargo drone prototype for US Navy and Marine Corps

Leidos has partnered with California-based drone developer Elroy Air to demonstrate a prototype autonomous cargo plane for the U.S. Navy and Marine Corps.

The project is part of the 2023 Framework Agreement for Manufacturing and Testing Unmanned Aerial Vehicles. Tactical equipment can be distributed to forward deployed ground forces..

Under this initiative, the consortium plans to field the Medium Air Replenishment Vehicle-Expeditionary Logistics (MARV-EL) system, ordered in “medium volume” specification.

Leidos said in an announcement last year that the completed vehicle could carry up to 272 kilograms (600 pounds) and travel 100 nautical miles (185 kilometers).

The MARV-EL platform is expected to remain functional even if other manned ground and airborne replenishment assets are down due to weather, threats, or terrain challenges.

“The approval to continue testing is a major milestone and the result of months of hard work by our team,” said Leidos Senior Vice President and Airborne Systems Manager. Tim Freeman said.

“We look forward to demonstrating how Leidos and Elroy Aviation’s MARV-EL solution can help bring logistics advantages to the Marine Corps and other military branches.”

Testing Elroy’s Chaparral

In line with the MARV-EL project, Elroy will also showcase its unique Chaparral drone, a hybrid electric vertical takeoff and landing vehicle designed with a “lift plus cruise” airframe for efficient flight and long-range autonomous deployment.

Chaparral leverages an advanced carbon composite chassis and modular autonomous payload capabilities, reducing human intervention compared to traditional cargo drones.

Elroy completed Chaparral’s first flight will take place in Byron in November 2023.

Chaparral hybrid electric vertical takeoff and landing (hVTOL) cargo drone.Photo: Elroy Eyre

This year’s MARV-EL test schedule will see the Leidos consortium launch the system at the U.S. Army Yuma Proving Ground in Arizona.

“We have designed the Chaparral from the beginning to move cargo and replenish forces in the battlespace without endangering the crew,” said Elroy Air CE. dave merrill Said.

“We look forward to demonstrating these capabilities and contributing to the U.S. Marine Corps’ goal of expeditionary logistics.”

Latest autonomous projects

Last January, Leidos and the U.S. Army conducted a drone-related evaluation of another project at Fort Sill, Oklahoma.

The demonstration included: Launch an autonomous anti-unmanned air system weapon against multiple threats.

In the same month as the MARV-EL announcement, Leidos received its next contract from the U.S. Navy. Maintain and operate the agency’s Overlord drone ship and other medium-sized unmanned surface vessels.

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