As the U.S. military market for unmanned aircraft becomes more crowded, Lockheed Martin is banking on its new Indago quadcopter to rake in domestic and international sales not only to defense agencies but also to the civil and commercial sectors.
The Indago is a five-pound unmanned aerial system with a five-kilometer range and 45-minute endurance, said Jay McConville, the company’s unmanned integrated systems business development director.
Its payload can be easily swapped out, and the UAS can be launched while in prone position, making it a good fit for troops on the ground, he said.
“It also has great application for commercial and civil use as well, and we’re starting to see some movement in that market with Indago, and expecting good things to come out of that,” he told reporters in June.
Lockheed has already partnered with two U.S. companies in the commercial and civil sectors, McConville said. In the first agreement, Lockheed will work with FourthWing Sensors LLC in Minneapolis, Minnesota, to lease aircraft to farmers who can fly the quadcopter over crops and gather video imagery that allows them to monitor growth.
“They can use hyperspectral imaging and other types of sensor capabilities [to] ... save money and make their farming operation more efficient,” he said. “That’s a great capability, and we’re seeing a lot of good things coming out of that.”
The company also is teaming with Detroit Aircraft to provide the Indago to first responders and public service organizations to support disaster relief or search-and-rescue operations, McConville said.
Medical personnel with little experience with unmanned systems could fly it over an accident to get a real-time picture of events on the ground, he said.
Users operate the quadcopter via a small handheld controller. “If you can play a video game, you can fly Indago,” he said.
Indago is outfitted with a gimbaled payload mount that will allow a 360-degree view of its surroundings. The foldable airframe can be carried in a briefcase and unfolded in a couple of minutes.
The company is also hoping for international sales, he said. At the Association for Unmanned Vehicle Systems International conference in May, Lockheed officials announced that the product was no longer under International Traffic in Arms Regulations.Photo Credit: Lockheed Martin