Dynetics team flies X-61A Gremlins Air Vehicle
Dynetics has successfully flown its X-61A Gremlins Air Vehicle for the first time, the company announced on 17 January.
Part of the DARPA Gremlins programme, the flight was carried out in November 2019 at Dugway Proving Ground, 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. Test objectives included demonstrating a successful launch of the GAV from the C-130 and a rate capture, wing deployment, cold engine start and transition to stable, powered flight.
Data of the GAV’s subsystem operation and performance was collected, and air and ground-based C2 systems, including data link performance and handovers between air and ground control, were verified.
Flight termination and ground (parachute) recovery of the GAV was also demonstrated, however the vehicle was lost during the ground recovery sequence due to a failure to extract the main chute.
The Gremlins programme aims to accelerate the ability to perform aerial launch and recovery of volley quantities of low-cost, reusable UAS. This flight is the next step toward the completion of the programme's Phase 3 demonstration objectives, which include a final flight test to demonstrate the ability to recover four GAVs in under 30 minutes.
The Dynetics team was one of four companies awarded Phase 1 in 2016. Phase 2 was awarded in March 2017 to two of those four performers, and Phase 3 followed in April 2018.
The Dynetics Gremlins team includes Kratos Unmanned Aerial Systems, Williams International, Applied Systems Engineering, Kutta Technologies, Moog, Sierra Nevada Corporation, Systima Technologies and Airborne Systems.
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