Date:4 May 2017
Fury can linger over the battlefield for 15 hours and act as a surveillance and communications relay platform.
By Kyle Mizokami
Lockheed is developing a new drone promises to be a long-endurance, high-altitude friend for troops on the ground, acting as an eye in the sky or a communications relay.
Fury, which looks a little like a pumpkin seed with bat wings, can operate for more than 15 hours at altitudes up to 15,000 feet. An in-house project funded on the company dime, Lockheed’s new drone is designed to give ground troops or warships their own surveillance or communications platform. The 17-foot-wingspan drone doesn’t need a runway to operate. Instead, it’s launched from a truck or deck-mounted catapult and can be recovered by flying it into a recovery net.
Lockheed Martin expects Fury to be useful in a variety of roles. The drone could help friendly artillery locate targets, or scout ahead of friendly forces for enemy units. At sea, it could provide surveillance in high-threat areas, going places too dangerous for the MH-60S Seahawk. Over land or sea it can soar over enemy forces, vacuuming up cell and radio communications traffic for analysis. Here’s a company video of the drone in action:
Fury has a payload of up to 200 pounds of fuel and equipment, and, Lockheed Martin says, it features an open architecture system that can integrate “electro-optical/infrared surveillance systems, voice communications relays, (satellite communications) links, and multiple signals intelligence payloads.”
Fury’s ability to fly for for more than 15 hours at high altitudes make it a discreet platform with staying power. Although the push propeller that powers the drone adds to its radar signature, LockMart claims it has a “low acoustic and visual signatures.” In other words, it is very quiet and difficult to see.
The drone would be particularly useful in wartime when units are cut off from the Pentagon. Fury would be able to scan nearby location for enemy forces to an extent previously only possible by aircraft or drones belonging to higher headquarters or even other services. Fury could also help establish a line of sight communications link when other comms sources, such as satellites, are downed or being jammed.
Fury has already clocked 400 hours at Yuma Proving Ground. Lockheed Martin says it is in talks with potential domestic and foreign buyers.
This article was originally written for and published by Popular Mechanics USA.