DARPA is working on a new terrifying “Gremlins” program, a swarm of small reusable drones deployed from aircraft over “denied” zones.
The DARPA‘s “Gremlins” program, a small, lightweight, and inexpensive drones, can be air-launched in swarms, on intelligence-gathering missions from cargo airplanes, or bombers.
Up to three hours later and once their missions are complete, the drones will fly back to the cargo airplane, that will collect them.
Dan Patt, DARPA program manager, said:
“Our goal is to conduct a compelling proof-of-concept flight demonstration that could employ intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR) and other modular, non-kinetic payloads in a robust, responsive and affordable manner.”
With an expected lifetime of about 20 uses, Gremlins could fill an advantageous design-and-use space between existing models of missiles and conventional aircraft, Patt said. “We wouldn’t be discarding the entire airframe, engine, avionics and payload with every mission, as is done with missiles, but we also wouldn’t have to carry the maintainability and operational cost burdens of today’s reusable systems, which are meant to stay in service for decades,” he said. Moreover, gremlin systems could be relatively cost-efficient if, as expected, they leverage existing technology and require only modest modifications to current aircraft.
Image credit DARPA