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Army Plans to Demonstrate Manned-Unmanned Aircraft Teaming; Layne Merritt Comments

The U.S. Army will possibly conduct a demonstration in late summer or early fall this year that involves launching an autonomous aircraft from a rotary-wing platform, Defense News reported Tuesday.

The service plans to deploy Area-I’s Air-Launched, Tube-Integrated Unmanned System or ALTIUS from a UH-60 Black Hawk aircraft to provide an understanding on how launching drones at low-altitude can be applied in the battlefield.

Layne Merritt, chief engineer at the Aviation and Missile Research, Development and Engineering Center of the Army’s Aviation Development Directorate, stated that the demonstration will inform scientists about the air flows, interfaces and launch dynamics of the entire system to prepare for the actual launch.

The Army intends to use rocket pods or a Hellfire launcher that can deploy the UAS from a helicopter once the first test is completed.

Merritt said the Army envisions that future drones will be directly ejected from planes so that they can be used for missions beyond surveillance and limited attacks, which is what they are currently used for.

Area-I developed ALTIUS in 2011 under a U.S. Air Force Small Business Innovation Research contract.

The UAS is initially designed to perform information, surveillance and reconnaissance operations.

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