DOD launches swarming drone in test of C-130 “drone mothership” concept

 In Biz & IT, DARPA, drone swarms, drones, Policy

DOD launches swarming drone in test of C-130 “drone mothership” concept

Serving the Technologist for more than a decade. IT news, reviews, and analysis.
An artist's concept of how Gremlins would fill the skies, launched from manned motherships.

Enlarge / An artist’s concept of how Gremlins would fill the skies, launched from manned motherships. (credit: DARPA)

The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) has been conducting research into a number of types of swarming drones that could be used on the battlefield. The latest of these is the “Gremlins” program—an effort to build relatively low-cost unmanned aircraft that can be launched from a “mothership” transport aircraft and then be recovered by the mothership after their mission is complete.

This past week, the Defense Department conducted the first airborne launch test for the Dynetics X-61A Gremlins Air Vehicle, a jet-powered drone that can be launched from the rotary weapons bays of the B-1 and B-52, from wing pylons, or from a C-130—and then recovered by a C-130 equipped with a docking cable and a crane-like recovery arm.

A DARPA video describing the Gremlins program.

The first flight of the X-61A took place in November, but the test this week—at the Dugway Proving Ground in Utah—was the first air launch of the drone. While the 101-minute flight was successful, the parachute system intended to allow for a soft ground landing failed, and the drone was destroyed in the unexpected hard landing that followed.

Read 3 remaining paragraphs | Comments

Next comes test of in-flight capture and recovery with sky-hook equipped cargo plane.

Recent Posts
Contact Us

We're not around right now. But you can send us an email and we'll get back to you, asap.

Not readable? Change text. captcha txt