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Dynetics and General Atomics Aeronautical Systems Inc. (GA-ASI) announced on 16 March they have each won DARPA contracts for Phase 2 of the agency’s GREMLINS programme. The $21 million planned 12-month efforts will focus on developing detailed system design and maturing critical technologies.

GREMLINS seeks to enable aircraft to launch volleys of low-cost, re-usable UAS and retrieve them in mid-air. The architecture seeks to enable other technologies such as advanced payloads and autonomous battle management for swarming systems.

During Phase 1, Dynetics successfully designed flight demonstration concepts for launch and recovery techniques, low-cost limited airframe designs and high-fidelity analysis, precision digital flight control, relative navigation and station keeping. The company was one of four competing companies awarded a contract in Phase 1. Phase 2 will focus on technology maturation and Phase 3 aims to finalise the design and ultimately demonstrate the ability to launch GREMLINS air vehicles and then safely recover them onto a C-130 aircraft. Based on Phase 2 results, DARPA plans to award Phase 3 in early 2018.

GREMLINS swarming UAS will be recovered safely and routinely in mid-air. (Graphic: DARPA)

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