An X-61 Gremlin Aerial Vehicle (GAV), an unmanned reconnaissance vehicle developed by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), was first recovered mid-air, DARPA announcement Friday.
In the demonstration last month, two of the drones flew into autonomous formation flight positions before one GAV was picked up by a C-130 – the other drone was destroyed during the flight.
DARAP, which is the research and development agency of the US Department of Defense, performed another test with the remaining GAV, which was recovered and re-flown within 24 hours.
The demonstration is a major milestone in the US military’s work to use a mothership to deploy drone swarms on a battlefield.
Scroll down for video
An X-61 Gremlin Aerial Vehicle (GAV), an unmanned reconnaissance vehicle developed by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), was recovered mid-flight for the first time
Lt. Col. Paul Calhoun, Gremlins Program Manager at DARPA’s Office of Tactical Technology, said in a statement: “This recovery was the culmination of years of hard work and demonstrates the feasibility of an airborne recovery. safe and reliable.
“Such a capability will likely prove critical for future distributed air operations.”
Developed by Dynetics, a U.S. aerospace and defense company that was also in the running to build NASA’s new lunar lander, GAV can be integrated into strike, reconnaissance and cargo aircraft, as well as support systems. operational ground with the US armed forces.
It is intended to support intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR), mobile target attack, enemy air defense suppression (SEAD) and close air support (CAS) missions.
A C-130 plane dropped a cable that locked onto the drone, pulling it inside the plane
GAVs can also be fitted with a variety of sensors and other mission-specific payloads.
They can also be launched from a variety of different military aircraft, allowing crewed aerial vehicles to remain a safe distance from a war zone.
The last demonstration shows that after aerial recovery, GAVs can be refurbished by ground crews to prepare them for another mission within 24 hours.
In the demonstration held last month, two of the drones flew into self-contained formation flight positions before one GAV was picked up by a C-130 – the other drone was destroyed during the flight.
The demonstration is a major step in the U.S. military’s work toward using a refueller to deploy swarms of drones on a battlefield
“Airborne recovery is complex,” Calhoun said.
“We’re going to take some time to build on the success of this deployment, and then get back to work by further analyzing the data and determining the next steps for the Gremlins technology. “
The GAV is a major key for the U.S. military to send large numbers of small unmanned aerial vehicles into combat at the same time, which is being developed by DARPA’s Gremlins program, named after the “Mischievous imps who became the lucky charms of many British pilots during World War II.”
“The expected lifespan of gremlins of approximately 20 uses could offer significant cost advantages over consumable systems by reducing payload and airframe costs and having lower mission and maintenance costs compared to flatbeds. -conventional shapes, designed to function for decades “, according to DARPA.