Autonomous Aerial Resupply Flight Tests for hVTOL Cargo Drone

Elroy Air and Leidos will trial the Chaparral hVTOL cargo aircraft system at the U.S. Army Yuma Proving Ground in Arizona to demonstrate autonomous aerial resupply capabilities By William Mackenzie / 17 May 2024
Autonomous Aerial Resupply Flight Tests for hVTOL Cargo Drone
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Leidos, with autonomous aircraft systems developer Elroy Air, has been approved to demonstrate an autonomous Medium Aerial Resupply Vehicle – Expeditionary Logistics (MARV-EL) prototype for the Navy and Marine Small Tactical Unmanned Aircraft Systems program office (PMA-263). 

The companies are set to demonstrate Elroy Air’s Chaparral system at the U.S. Army Yuma Proving Ground in Yuma, Arizona, to test the system’s autonomous MARV-EL capabilities. 

The Chaparral is a “lift-plus-cruise” hybrid-electric vertical take-off and landing (hVTOL) cargo aircraft. The Chaparral system leverages the benefits of wing-borne flight, driven by electric propulsion and turbo-generation for efficient autonomous operations and longer-range missions. It is designed with an advanced carbon composite airframe and modular automated payload capabilities, which assist in reducing the personnel required compared to legacy aircraft, and enables zero-touch logistics.

MARV-EL is a PMA-263 effort, designed to provide commanders with a responsive capability to sustain Marine Corps Forces conducting expeditionary advanced base and other distributed operations. 

MARV-EL, using autonomous operations, is set to be the “middle-weight” unmanned logistics asset, providing combat sustainment to Marines when ground or manned aviation assets are unavailable due to threat, terrain, weather, or competing priorities.

The flight test activities are scheduled for July 2024. The development and testing are part of a contract awarded in 2023 to develop and demonstrate an uncrewed aircraft system that can autonomously resupply forward-deployed ground forces for the U.S. Marine Corps.

Tim Freeman, Leidos senior vice president and Airborne Systems business area manager, commented; “Leidos is pleased to team with Elroy Air to bring this critical capability to the warfighter. 

“Approval to proceed to test is a major milestone and is the result of months of hard work by the team. We look forward to demonstrating how the Leidos and Elroy Air MARV-EL solution will help deliver a logistics advantage to the Marines and other branches of the military.”

Elroy Air CEO and co-founder Dave Merrill added; “We’re excited to work with Leidos to provide these critical capabilities to U.S. and allied forces. 

“We’ve been designing Chaparral from the beginning to move cargo and resupply troops in the battlespace without putting crews in harm’s way. We look forward to demonstrating these capabilities and working toward serving the U.S. Marine Corps’ goals for expeditionary logistics.”

Posted by William Mackenzie Connect & Contact