by John McHale
The Multi-Purpose Long-Endurance (MPLE) unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) concept from Lockheed Martin Skunk Works in Palmdale, Calif., was shown at the Association of Unmanned Vehicle Systems International (AUVSI) show in Denver. The UAV would provide intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance (ISR) communications and limited strike missions flying as high as 40,000 feet above sea level with 250 knot dash-speed.
The UAV is designed with off-the shelf systems in an open systems architecture, which enables rapid reconfiguration, according to the MPLE data sheet. The aircraft can spend five days on station, operating from a centrally located within a 2,000 nautical mile radius. Its missions include wide are search and surveillance, counter-incendiary explosive device, anti-piracy/maritime surveillance, communications relay, and battlefield preparation. It can carry a payload weight of as much as 4,000 pounds.