DARPA Catches Drone in Flight

NAKHORNNAYOK RIVER, Thailand (June 8, 2013) A Sailor assigned to Maritime Civil Affairs and Security Training, Security Forces Assistance Detachment, assists Operations Specialist 1st Class Robert Mertz, right, assigned to Coastal Riverine Squadron (CORIVON) 3, in moving an unmanned aerial system drone between the pier and a riverine boat during Cooperation Afloat Readiness and Training (CARAT) Thailand 2013. / U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Melissa K. Russell/Released

WASHINGTON — The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency and Dynetics proved they can catch an X-61A Gremlin drone in flight and bring it aboard a C-130A mothership. But the next step will be more difficult.

In a conference call with reporters Monday, Dynetics’ Gremlins program manager Tim Keeter said the program now must prove it can recover multiple drones repeatedly, reliably and quickly enough for real-world operations.

For DARPA, Keeter said, making the American program work at an “operationally relevant rate” would mean being able to recover four drones within a half-hour. He called last month’s successful test — the Gremlins’ fourth such deployment — a milestone for both the program and unmanned aviation, adding that the effort could “dramatically expand” the military’s ability to carry out distributed airborne operations.

He also expressed confidence that with the program over “the biggest hump” of proving airborne recovery can work, it will be able to reach its goal.

Read more at C4ISRNET

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