The drone runs on a 183cc two-stroke engine powering a ducted-fan propulsion and control system, enabling it to reach a top speed of around 90 knots and altitudes as high as 20,000 feet. Martin UAV claims the V-Bat has an 11-hour endurance and can carry payloads up to 25 lbs, making it well-suited to carry a wide variety of multi-spectral sensor systems, electronic intelligence gear, radar systems, electronic warfare suites, and communications packages. The truly modular nature of the V-Bat makes it quite useful for swarming operations, as different drones could be configured with various payloads to give an entire swarm the flexibility to carry out multiple missions and be rapidly reconfigured. It’s unknown if there are any plans to arm the drone, but considering its payload capabilities, it’s possible the VTOL platform could become an optionally reusable cruise missile or loitering munition in the future.
A line-of-sight datalink gives the V-Bat roughly 50-mile range, although that is largely impacted by terrain. Its range could potentially be augmented with forward-based ground control stations or through relay links to other airborne craft. When operating in a fully autonomous mode, these lines-of-sight datalinks wouldn’t be as much of a factor and would allow the drones to travel even farther. Even connecting V-Bat with operators via a basic low-bandwidth satellite datalink, so it can provide simple updates for monitoring and accept simple commands, could be an option.
The V-Bat has already been used in counter-drug operations by the U.S. Navy, while the Marine Corps has been testing the VTOL drone for future use to replace aging UAV systems. The unique UAV was also recently chosen as a finalist in the Navy’s Mi2 Challenge, which seeks to “accelerate the identification and evaluation of Unmanned Aerial Systems (UAS) capable of operating in austere deployed environments without ancillary support systems.” The U.S. Army, meanwhile, is eyeing the V-Bat for future use as part of its Army Expeditionary Warrior Experiment which seeks out “concepts and capabilities at the lower tactical echelon in support of Multi-Domain Operations (MDO).” The drone is competing against three other UAVs to replace the Army’s RQ-7 Shadow, which is rapidly approaching obsolescence and does not have anywhere near the capability set the V-Bat does.