A brief clip of an official video from the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, or DARPA, has appeared online, showing what looks to be a C-130 Hercules-type aircraft deploying or recovering a prototype unmanned system as part of the Gremlins drone swarm program.
This is the first actual footage to emerge regarding the project, which is focused on demonstrating the feasibility of having groups of low-cost, air-launched, reusable drones perform a variety of roles.
Gremlins, which first began in August 2015, envisions a cheap, short-life drone swarm that one or more aircraft can release in flight and another set of planes can then retrieve in mid-air after a mission. The basic concept of operations envisions a C-130-type aircraft – as seen in the video – as well as combat aircraft, such as fighter jets and bombers, releasing the swarm of Gremlins at a stand-off distance from enemy defenses.
The drones would then conduct this missions and another C-130 would retrieve them and return to base with them, where ground crews would be able to have them ready for another sortie within 24 hours. The minimum threshold requirement is for the low-cost unmanned systems to remain functional for just 20 missions.The rear fins on the vehicle in the animated picture have what appears to be of a grid or lattice design. This point towards Dynetics, which produces the GBU-69/B Small Glide Bomb, a precision-guided munition that has three fins of a similar shape
In addition, the C-130 visible in the video appears to be one that belongs to International Air Response. This firm offers a variety of specialized air services, including making their aircraft available for flight tests, and is a member of Dynetics Gremlins team.
Of course, grid fins are a well-established technology at this point and, among other benefits, offer a relatively easy way to fold control surfaces near flush against the cylindrical body of a missile, rocket, or other types of projectiles. This can help make the weapon or air vehicle more compact for storage and carriage before launch, which would almost certainly be an important consideration for the Gremlins project.
The video itself is almost certainly from the first phase of the project, which was supposed to include tests to examine methods for both launching and recovering prototypes from the rear of a C-130-type aircraft. The clip appears to show a winch system with a physical tether to the drone, but it is not clear whether this is part of the launch or recovery process, or if that system performs both functions. Reeling the vehicle in either direction would be good test points.
Full story: The Drive
UAV DACH: Beitrag im Original auf https://www.uasvision.com/2018/04/17/darpa-gremlins-drone-launched-from-a-c-130/, mit freundlicher Genehmigung von UAS Vision automatisch importiert, Der Beitrag gibt nicht unbedingt die Meinung oder Position des UAV DACH e.V. wieder. Das Original ist in englischer Sprache.