Dynetics say they have successfully flown the X-61A Gremlins Air Vehicle (GAV) for the first time. 

The firm say that the test took place at Dugway Proving Ground near Salt Lake City, Utah.

Testing operations involved one captive-carry mission aboard a C-130A and an airborne launch and free flight of the X-61A that lasted one hour and 41 minutes.

The test objectives included:

·      Demonstrating a successful launch of the GAV from the C-130

·      Demonstrating a rate capture, wing deployment, cold engine start, and transition to stable, powered flight

·      Collecting data on GAV subsystem operation and performance

·      Verifying air and ground-based command and control systems, including data link performance and handovers between air and ground control

·      Deploying the GAV docking arm

·      Demonstrating the flight termination and ground (parachute) recovery of the GAV (demonstration system only – not part of the operational system)

Dynetics say the X-61A flew as predicted with no anomalies, achieving all test objectives that relate to the operational system. At the end of the mission, the engine was shut down and a drogue chute successfully deployed to terminate flight.

To view the flight test video, click here.

Unfortunately, the vehicle was lost during the ground recovery sequence due to a failure to extract the main chute.

Managed out of DARPA’s Tactical Technology Office, the overarching goal of Gremlins is to accelerate the ability to perform aerial launch and recovery of volley quantities of low-cost, reusable unmanned aerial systems (UASs).

Gremlin swarming drones.

This test is the next step toward the completion of the program’s Phase 3 demonstration objectives, which include a final flight test to demonstrate the ability to recover four GAVs in under 30 minutes.

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1 year ago

Interesting, will the airforce of the future be made up of large manned platforms that act as mother to a small host of unmanned vehicles going lots of jobs. With Ariel combat being a function of one host against another trying to remove each other’s mother.

I did once read a paper on this concept.

1 year ago
Reply to  Jonathan

Yes, I personally believe that will be the direction most forces will follow in the future. The reason for this is two fold. One is you cannot rely on the availability of your satellites as part of the relay system from ground stations. The satellites being you primary method of strategic reconnaissance and long distance over the horizon communications will be part of focused targeting leading up to the conflict and during the early stages, either by hacking or physical attack. The second is that the Mothership must remain in line of sight contact with thew deployed drones, otherwise, the… Read more »

1 year ago

Here”s a gif of how the mothership will retrieve these at the end of their tasking

1 year ago

While it is meant for a different role this does rather remind me of the cancelled AGM-136A Tacit Rainbow.