DARPA’s new Gremlins program recently conducted a successful test where two X-61 Gremlin Air Vehicles (GAV) validated all autonomous formation flying positions and safety features before one of them was recovered in mid-air by a C-130 cargo plane. Airborne recovery isn’t as easy as it sounds, but due to the success of this deployment, DARPA will be able to use their findings and determine next steps for the Gremlins technology. Read more for a video and additional information.
The team did conduct one final test where an X-61 vehicle was refurbished and took part in a second flight within 24 working-hours. Over four flights, many hours of data were collected, including air vehicle performance, aerodynamic interactions between the recovery bullet and GAV, as well as contact dynamics for airborne retrieval. There was one casualty however, when one of these GAVs was destroyed during the flight tests.
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This recovery was the culmination of years of hard work and demonstrates the feasibility of safe, reliable airborne recovery. Such a capability will likely prove to be critical for future distributed air operations,” said Lt. Col. Paul Calhoun, program manager for Gremlins in DARPA’s Tactical Technology Office.