DARPA’S TALONS tested on USS Zephyr
DARPA's Towed Airborne Lift of Naval Systems (TALONS) prototype has been tested on board the US naval coastal patrol vessel USS Zephyr, DARPA announced on 15 August.
The low-cost, elevated sensor mast was evaluated over three days near Naval Station Mayport, Florida.
TALONS demonstrated routine and safe operation from the ship’s deck under a variety of sea states and wind conditions without affecting the ship’s operational capability. During the tests, the system significantly improved the ship’s ability to detect, track, and classify contacts of interest. It also increased communications range between the ship and remote platforms such as the Zephyr’s rigid hull inflatable boats.
TALONS is designed to be towed behind boats or ships, carrying ISR instruments and communications payloads of up to 150lbs at altitudes between 500 and 1,500ft, in order to extend the vessel's ISR and communications range.
Scott Littlefield, program manager in DARPA’s Tactical Technology Office, said: ‘We’re very pleased with the USS Zephyr testing, which showed that a future system based on TALONS could provide operational benefits for even small navy vessels.
‘In the next year, we will continue our cooperative relationship with the US Navy and work toward fully automating launch and recovery, which would make the system even easier to use on manned vessels and compatible with unmanned surface vessels.’
TALONS is part of DARPA’s phase one research for Tern, a joint programme between DARPA and the US Navy’s Office of Naval Research.
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