Lamz.Revolutionary Feat: US Military Plane Snatches Drone Midair with Groundbreaking Claw Technique

An X-61 Gremlin Air Vehicle (GAV), an unmanned reconnaissance vehicle developed by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), achieved a remarkable milestone by being successfully recovered mid-flight for the first time. This groundbreaking achievement was announced by DARPA on a recent Friday.

In a demonstration held last month, two of these autonomous drones executed precise formation flying maneuvers before one of the GAVs was successfully recovered by a C-130 aircraft. Unfortunately, the other drone was lost during the flight.

DARPA, the research and development agency of the U.S. Department of Defense, conducted further testing with the remaining GAV, which was swiftly recovered and made ready for flight again within just 24 hours.

This achievement marks a significant advancement in the U.S. military’s efforts to deploy swarms of drones over a battlefield using a mothership as their launch platform.

Lt. Col. Paul Calhoun, the program manager for Gremlins in DARPA’s Tactical Technology Office, emphasized the importance of this recovery, stating, “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.”

Developed by Dynetics, an American defense and aerospace company known for its involvement in the competition to build NASA’s new lunar lander, the GAV can be seamlessly integrated with strike, reconnaissance, cargo aircraft, and ground support systems used by the U.S. Armed Forces. Its primary purpose is to support various missions, including intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance (ISR), mobile target attack, suppression of enemy air defenses (SEAD), and close air support (CAS).

These versatile GAVs can be equipped with a range of sensors and mission-specific payloads. They are also designed to launch from a variety of military aircraft, allowing crewed air vehicles to maintain a safe distance from the battlefield.

The recent demonstration not only showcased the ability to recover these GAVs mid-flight but also demonstrated their rapid refurbishment by ground crews, preparing them for another mission within a remarkable 24-hour timeframe.

Calhoun explained, “Airborne recovery is complex. We will take some time to enjoy the success of this deployment, then get back to work further analyzing the data and determining next steps for the Gremlins technology.”

The GAV technology is pivotal to the U.S. military’s vision of deploying numerous small unmanned aerial vehicles simultaneously. DARPA’s Gremlins program, named after the mischievous imps that brought good luck to British pilots during World War II, aims to achieve this by enabling these Gremlins to be reused approximately 20 times. This approach promises significant cost advantages over expendable systems, reducing payload and airframe expenses, as well as mission and maintenance costs compared to conventional platforms designed for long-term operation.

This accomplishment represents a significant step forward in the military’s capability to employ innovative drone technology effectively and efficiently.

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