The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency has tested a hard dock and recovery system as part of a program that aims to demonstrate an airborne platform to launch and recover multiple unmanned aerial systems.
DARPA said Wednesday the separation and captive flight tests occurred at Yuma Proving Ground and marked a key step for the agency’s Gremlins program.
The agency aims to conduct flight tests of the platform in late 2019 and looks to test multiple sensor packages before the project concludes.
DARPA’s program team also explored risk reduction methods through modeling and simulation activities, as well as examined how current aircraft platforms could leverage “gremlins” in high-risk missions.
Gremlin UAS is designed to accommodate up to 150 pounds of sensors and function for up to 20 uses during its lifetime.
Scott Wierzbanowski, program manager at DARPA’s Tactical Technology Office, said the C-130 military transport aircraft will serve as the Gremlins demonstration platform.
Wierzbanowski added that service branches could modify the Gremlin system for potential use with another transport aircraft platform or a weapons system.