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Test Brings Pentagon Closer to ‘Swarming Drones’ Capability

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Pentagon Moves Closer to ‘Swarming Drones’ Capability with New Systems Test (excerpt)

(Source: The Washington Post; published May 6, 2018)

by Aaron Gregg

An artists' rendering shows a Gremlins unmanned aerial vehicle being recovered into a C-130 cargo plane. Defense contractor Dynetics conducted preliminary tests of the launch and recovery systems earlier this year. (Dynetics image)

Flying aircraft carriers that launch and recover fleets of small, inexpensive drones could soon be part of the U.S. military arsenal, as the Pentagon works with private technology partners to engineer that vision into reality.

In late April the Pentagon’s ­advanced research-and-development arm, known as DARPA, awarded a 21-month, $38.6 million contract to Dynetics, a Huntsville, Ala.-based company that has an office in Arlington, to work on the software and technology. San Diego-based Kratos, a venture-funded tech company that specializes in cheap drones used for target practice, joined as a subcontractor and will build a new class of drones whose wings can be folded up for easier storage in the belly of a plane.

For the U.S. military, gaining the ability to have multiple drones quickly and reliably take off from a plane and return to it would be a big step forward, aviation experts say. The goal is to build the technology and know-how needed to apply hordes of small drones on the battlefield.

“You can send volleys of swarms over and over again and really just overwhelm an adversary with that complexity,” said Tim Keeter, a deputy program manager and chief engineer at Dynetics. The lower cost could also allow the company’s military customers to take greater risks and be more aggressive on the battlefield, Keeter said. (end of excerpt)

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