U.S. Marine Corps Starts Market Survey For New VTOL Family

VTOL cargo platform
A new fleet of commercially derived VTOL cargo systems could enter development in fiscal 2023.
Credit: Pfc. Gabriel Silva/U.S. Army

The U.S. Marine Corps has taken the first step toward fielding a new Vertical Takeoff and Landing (VTOL) Family of Systems (FOS), releasing a request for information (RFI) on Oct. 21 to gather information on available options. 

The responses to the RFI will inform future studies, including an analysis of alternatives that would precede a program launch decision, the Marine Corps says. 

A classified VTOL FOS industry day was held on Oct. 20 to discuss the capabilities being considered for the Marine Corps. 

The requirement for a new VTOL FOS emerged publicly last year. The Cunningham Group, an internal think tank within the Marine Corps’ aviation branch, recommended moving forward on a concept for VTOL FOS immediately. 

The Marine Corps prioritized fielding the first elements of a VTOL FOS over a replacement for the AH-1Z/UH-1Y fleet. Consequently, the Marine Corps postponed launching the Attack Utility Replacement Aircraft program by 4 years until fiscal 2027. 

In the meantime, the plan is to start fielding the Unmanned Logistics System-Air Large as early as fiscal 2023, which began on Oct. 1. The goal is to leverage hybrid and fully electric VTOL technology in the commercial market for military applications. The concept is expected to dramatically reduce the costs of supporting the logistics needs of distributed combat teams in the Pacific region. 

Steve Trimble

Steve covers military aviation, missiles and space for the Aviation Week Network, based in Washington DC.