Martin UAV has announced improvements to their V-BAT unmanned aircraft, including increased payload and endurance.
Claimed characteristics include a 25 pound payload and an eleven hours endurance. While that endurance does not equal that of the ScanEagle, the payload is about three times greater.
A second announcement reported,
“The Navy selected Martin UAV’s V-BAT for a VTOL UAS prototyping and development effort in order to fulfill new technological requirements driven by the changing nature of threats in austere operating environments.
“The V-BAT was selected to meet these requirements as a result of its minimal logistic support requirements and maximum versatility. The system offers vertical takeoff with a single-engine ducted fan, automatic transition to straight and level flight, easily commanded hovers and stares, interchangeable payloads, and an open architecture.”
The Coast Guard conducted tests of the V-BAT aboard USCGC Harriet Lane in August 2020.
It looks like this system might be able to provide the 270s with the same sort of advantages the National Security Cutters have enjoyed with the use of Scan Eagle despite their much smaller hangar, because it does not need catapult launch or recovery equipment.
The Manufacturer claims that the V-BAT requires only a 12 x 12 foot area for take-off and landing, so a 270 foot WMEC should have plenty of space, even if it also has a helicopter inside a fully extended hangar. We can expect all the 270s to be with us for at least another 13 years, some are expected to remain in commission for at least another 17 years. It is still worthwhile to try to make them as effective as possible.