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Unmanned Systems Gain Higher Profile in U.S. Marine Corps Programs.

"The world is turning into urban sprawl," said Brig. Gen. William D. Catto, commander of the Marine Corp. Warfighting Lab. "Our focus will be on helping infantry to fight and survive in built-up areas."

Catto and other officials addressed industry representatives at the 20th Modern Day Marine Exposition, in Quantico, Va.

"Our first concern is [containing] asymmetric threats," said Catto. This translates into deterring terrorists by letting them know that "we are prepared," he bluntly stated.

When it comes to emerging requirements for tactical unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) and unmanned ground vehicles, Catto quickly let his preferences be known. "If it's not small, I don't want it," he said. "If it's too big, it costs too much."

For urban operations, the Corps is seeking wireless command and control communications networks, he said, that feature the latest information technology. "Better communications mean better knowledge of the position of friendly forces, which, then reduces incidents of fratricide," Catto stated.

He cited a lightweight UAV--small enough to fir into a backpack--as an example of the type of technology the Marine Corps wants. The portable UAV system, he said, is called "Dragon Eye."

Sikorsky Aircraft, of Stanford, Conn., currently is developing a UAV that the Corps could also use in urban operations. Even though it's small, it's not as compact as the Dragon Eye. This UAV is named "Dragon Warrior." It can fly either as a fixed-wing or a rotor-wing aircraft. But the Dragon Warrior weighs 240 pounds, which precludes it being carried in a backpack.

For 2002, Catto announced that he would like to enlist industry's help for improving longevity in batteries and electric generators. "We need something that is efficient and at a lower price," he said. "What we spend on batteries is something terrible."
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Article Details
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Author:Willingham, Stephen
Publication:National Defense
Article Type:Brief Article
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Dec 1, 2000
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Next Article:Marines Are Climbing Out of the "Research and Development Bathtub".

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