How F-22 and F-35 Could Launch and Recover
Drones? US Air Force F-22s and F-35s will soon launch
and control recover attack drones to expand air-combat operations, test enemy air defenses,
conduct long-range ISR and even deliver weapons. This fast-approaching technology, which calls
upon advanced levels of autonomous navigation, is closer to reality due of DARPA’s Gremlins
program which plans to break new ground by launching – and recovering – four drones
from an in-flight C-130. “The team looked at how fifth generation
aircraft systems like the F-35 and F-22 respond, and how they could incorporate Gremlins in
higher risk areas,” a DARPA statement said. For years, it has been possible to launch
expendable drones from the air, without needing a ground control station, provided they do
not return to an aircraft. Gremlins, by contrast, is a technical effort to engineer specially
configured aerial drones able to both launch and return to a host aircraft.
The program is now moving into a phase three, “DARPA is progressing toward its plan to
demonstrate airborne launch and recovery of multiple unmanned aerial systems, targeted
for late 2019. Now in its third and final phase, the goal for the Gremlins program is
to develop a full-scale technology featuring the air recovery of multiple low-cost, reusable
or “Gremlins,” a DARPA announcement said. This technology, which hinges upon higher
levels of autonomous navigation, brings a wide swath of improved mission possibilities.
These include much longer attack and mission reach, because drones can begin missions while
in the air much closer to an objective, A recent flight test at Yuma Proving Ground
provided an opportunity to conduct safe separation and captive flight tests of the hard dock
and recovery system. “Early flight tests have given us confidence
we can meet our objective to recover four gremlins in 30 minutes,” program manager
in DARPA’s Tactical Technology Office, said in a written statement.
“The key technological advance is achieving increased safety through software redundancies
to be able to operate a vehicle of this size in close proximity to a C-130 or F-22, F-35
to stabilize the vehicle,” Tim Keeter, Deputy Program Manager and Chief Engineer, Gremlins,
Dynetics, told in an interview. Another advantage of technological advances
in drone autonomy is that one human may have an ability to control multiple drones and
perform a command and control function – while drones execute various tasks such as sensor
functions, targeting, weapons transport or electronic warfare activities, former Air
Force Chief Scientist Gregory Zacharias told Warrior interview.
In the future, according to Zacharias, one human may be able to control 10 – or even
100 drones. The Army has advanced manned-unmanned teaming
technology in its helicopter fleet –successfully engineering Apache and Kiowa air crews to
control flight paths and sensor payloads from the air in the cockpit. Army officials say
this technology has yielded successful combat results in Afghanistan. new next-generation
bomber, the B-21 Raider, will be engineered to fly manned and unmanned missions. Also,
the Air Force and Boeing flew an unmanned F-16 at supersonic speeds.
At the same time, despite the speed at which unmanned technology is progressing, many scientist
and weapons’ developers are of the view that human pilots will still be needed – given
the speed at which the human brain can quickly respond to unanticipated developments or implement
directions from a remote pilot in a ground station, a circumstance which underscores
the need for manned or unmanned. Thank You For Watching. Please Like, Share,
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