DARPA Gremlin Drone Tests

In November, DARPA X-61A Gremlins Air Vehicle (GAV) flew for more than two hours, successfully validating all autonomous formation flying positions and safety features. Nine attempts were made at mechanical engagement of the GAVs to the docking bullet extended from a C-130 aircraft, but relative movement was more dynamic than expected and each GAV ultimately, safely parachuted to the ground.

DARPA wants to launch smaller swarm of two to four unmanned aircraft out the back of a C-130 or from wing mounts. Eventually, a single C-130 could launch and recover up to 16 gremlin vehicles. Gremlins could be launched from F-16s, B-52s, and other aircraft after some modifications.

Gremlins air vehicles are 14-feet long and weigh about 1,600 pounds when fully fueled.

DARPA has launched the Gremlins program. Named for the imaginary, mischievous imps that became the good luck charms of many British pilots during World War II, the program envisions launching groups of UASs from existing 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 illustration)

There are also microdrones where swarms of hundreds of drones could be launched from one plane.

Written By Brian Wang, Nextbigfuture.com