Navy announces prize challenge for MUX program

News Release, NAVAIR News

NAVAL AIR SYSTEMS COMMAND, Patuxent River, Md.–

The Navy announced a prize challenge May 22 for its future Marine Air/Ground Task Force, Unmanned Aerial System, Expeditionary (MUX), a ship-based, long endurance UAS.

“The prize challenge is an innovative solution to get this capability to the Marines faster and get the best performance per dollar of investment,” said Capt. Eric Soderberg, the Navy’s Multi-Mission Tactical UAS (PMA-266) program manager.  “This approach will hopefully prompt industry to use non-traditional ways to develop their concepts.”

Although prize challenges have been used for decades, the process and execution is relatively new for NAVAIR. The MUX Integrated Product Team (IPT) intends to use all available methods of engineering and test to decrease time to field and increase first pass yield on its material solution. They intend to use best of breed model based systems engineering, capabilities based test and evaluation and mid-tier acquisition as tools to decrease cycle time.

Over the past twelve months the MUX IPT, part of PMA-266, conducted extensive research and analysis with industry to determine the “art of the possible” on types of aircraft that can satisfy the Marine’s extremely demanding requirements.

“It becomes a physics problem that requires a high degree of technical aptitude to develop a MUX capability,” said Reggie Fagin, MUX class desk engineer.

In order for NAVAIR to meet its aggressive fielding date, PMA-266 will award prize challenges in two phases. The first phase will seek design concepts for payloads and modularity, emphasizing minimal size and weight while maximizing performance. The challenge submissions will be scored and evaluated by a panel of judges. Vendors will receive $700,000 for first place; $200,000 for second place; and $100,000 for third place.

The results of the first phase will inform a second prize challenge for airframe and power plants.  The Navy expects to award a series of up to eight prize challenge awards for MUX.

“We may be using OTA [Other Transactional] authorities,” said Rear Adm. Brian Corey, who oversees the Program Executive office for Unmanned Aviation and Strike Weapons (PEO (U&W)), during a briefing at the Sea Air Space symposium earlier this month. “Part of the approach is it’s a learning approach by nature, it’s an interactive approach by nature, but industry – how they respond will change how we move through the prize challenges. So this first prize challenge is to get people going. It will be a segment of the problem that we have to solve to go forward and as we move forward the problem will get bigger, the prizes will get bigger and hopefully we’ll get closer to what the Marine Corps ultimately needs to meet their fleet requirement.”

The Marine Corps is looking to field MUX in 2026 on its guided missile destroyers. For more information on  the MUX prize challenge visit www.navair.navy.mil/muxchallenge.   

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