DARPA looking to sling and recover drones from aircraft motherships

DARPA’s “Gremlins” would swarm on a target or reconnaissance mission

darpa-looking-to-sling-and-recover-drones-from-aircraft-motherships

The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency is moving forward with a program that will launch and recover volleys of small unmanned aircraft from one or more existing large airplanes such as B-52s, B-1s or C-130s.

The Gremlins program has as a goal to launch groups of drones or gremlins from large aircraft such as bombers or transport aircraft, as well as from fighters and other small, fixed-wing platforms while those planes are out of range of adversary defenses. When the gremlins complete their mission, a C-130 transport aircraft would retrieve them in the air and carry them home, where ground crews would prepare them for their next use within 24 hours, DARPA said.

+More on Network World: Hot stuff: The coolest drones+

With an expected lifetime of about 20 uses, Gremlins could fill an a need between existing models of missiles and conventional aircraft, DARPA stated.

“An ability to send large numbers of small unmanned air systems with coordinated, distributed capabilities could provide U.S. forces with improved operational flexibility at much lower cost than is possible with today’s expensive, all-in-one platforms—especially if those unmanned systems could be retrieved for reuse while airborne. So far, however, the technology to project volleys of low-cost, reusable systems over great distances and retrieve them in mid-air has remained out of reach,” DARPA stated.

The agency last year put out a Request For Information to explore the feasibility and value of launching and recovering volleys of small unmanned aircraft and Gremlins is the follow on to that request.

DARPA said it now plans to focus on the technical challenges associated with safe, reliable aerial launch and recovery of multiple unmanned air vehicles.

Check out these other hot stories:

FBI: Major business e-mail scam blasts 270% increase since 2015

Attention whitehats, The FTC wants you to lead new privacy, security push

The ultimate auto-pilot software gets $15M boost

Big question of the day: Leonard Nimoy or not?

DARPA: Current DDoS protection isn’t cutting it

The weirdest, wackiest and coolest sci/tech stories of 2015 (so far!)

DARPA: What are the extreme challenges facing optics and imaging?

NASA touts real technologies highlighted in imminent 'The Martian' flick

DARPA wants low-power chips that handle high-impact applications

To comment on this article and other Network World content, visit our Facebook page or our Twitter stream.
Related:
Must read: Hidden Cause of Slow Internet and how to fix it
Notice to our Readers
We're now using social media to take your comments and feedback. Learn more about this here.