V-BAT is being tested by US Army to replace “Shadow” — the future of unmanned aircraft systems

As the US Army seeks to replace their RQ-7B “Shadow” tactical drone, first deployed in 2001 — and renowned for its impressive list of accomplishments — Northrop Grumman and Shield AI have been selected for Round 2 of the Future Tactical Unmanned Aircraft System (FTUAS) competition[1] . This change is due to the Shadow’s outdated launch system using a catapult as well as its landings requiring an arrestor wire – not to mention it can’t fly safely year-round in all kinds of weather. Despite it’s solid performance, Shadow’s clearly outdated with nearly two decades of service.

Unlike the “Shadow”, the V-BAT can be manipulated and operated by a duo of soldiers, while also gliding horizontally. Its ducted fan grants it top-notch performance whilst protecting its operators from bare blades. The most remarkable feature? It can stay aloft for up to 8 hours with extra fuel available in case of an emergency!

Northrop Grumman and Shield AI are collaborating to upgrade Martin UAV’s V-BAT drone platform, which has already received testing from the US Navy and Marine Corps.

Demonstrating the capabilities of the V-BAT in a test aboard the advanced stealth destroyer USS Michael Monsoor (DDG 1001):

What is the Future Tactical Unmanned Aircraft System?

The US Army describes it as:

“The Future Tactical Unmanned Aircraft System (FTUAS) will be the replacement for the currently fielded RQ-7B Shadow in ground maneuver brigade combat teams. The FTUAS will be a low to medium altitude aircraft with modern datalinks, Electro-Optical/Infra-Red (EO/ IR) sensors, Infra-Red/Laser pointer/Laser designator/Laser range finder, data encryption, manned-unmanned teaming capabilities and the ability to operate autonomously. Designed with a Modular Open Systems Approach, FTUAS payloads will be easily interchangeable. The FTUAS will be readily deployable using Chinook Helicopters and provide commanders more flexibility on the battlefield.”

V-Bat testing. Vertical takeoff. Screenshot from video above.

The newly enhanced V-BAT drone platform could be an invaluable resource for US Army Brigade Combat Teams, Special Forces, and Ranger battalions in their surveillance of remote areas. Its modular system allows it to carry a variety of advanced payloads such as surveillance and electronic warfare technology that enable these teams to conduct persistent reconnaissance operations with greater efficiency.


The drone was tested aboard the USS Michael Monsoor, an advanced stealth destroyer.


Testing with various payloads

The V-BAT system is being tested with the integration of cutting-edge surveillance and electronic payloads. This multifaceted platform accommodates a variety of payloads, such as electro-optical/infrared, synthetic aperture radar, and EW systems. Thanks to its easy usability and higher power output coupled with a shortened supply chain and interchangeable payload choices, this upgraded version presents enhanced long-term adaptability along with superior life cycle management.


[1] US Army’s Future Tactical Unmanned Aircraft System>>

[2] Northrop Grumman>>

[3] Interesting Engineering>>

Did you miss this?

Other Popular Stories

  • Long March 3B rocket launch destroys home as lower rocket booster crashes during launch
  • Quebec aerospace industry in good shape despite setbacks
  • Wind more economical than nuclear: offshore wind turbines in U.K. significantly less expensive per megawatt than planned nuclear
  • Bombardier promises to deal with Toronto's streetcars, while CSeries sales take off
  • Drivers want hydrogen-fueled cars says Hyundai
  • Canadian Solar could earn $2.3 billion through acquisition of Recurrent Energy
  • Williams Advance Engineering Develops Ground-Breaking Aerofoil
  • Nuclear emergency response centre for Ontario as countries deal with aging reactors
  • Economy shows strength in third quarter
  • SAFFir is an autonomous robot firefighter being tested by the Navy for dangerous situations. Unlike other firefighting robots, SAFFir is both autonomous, and stands on two legs, with two hands to grasp fire hoses.
    Robots save lives: robot fire-fighters take on explosive situations. SAFFiR shows how they can be ultimately be autonomous.
  • Global car sales will set record this year: Scotiabank
  • Women wanted in construction trades as "tremendous opportunity" exists
  • Construction giant to revolutionize industry with 3D concrete printing
  • Researchers Test Feasibility of EmDrive and Mach Effect Thrusters
  • Ontario's manufacturing output "robust" in May: RBC
  • Manufacturing sales up slightly in July, Q3 forecast to be stronger
  • Infrastructure in focus at Queen's Park as new legislation tabled
  • Ford to boost profits by cutting 1400 salaried workers in North America and Asia
  • Irving Oil to build new marine terminal in NB to handle new crude from Alberta
  • Pump and compressor makers feeling the oil crunch
Scroll to Top