Danger Room: Pentagon’s Mad Scientists Want to Launch Killer Drones from Small Warships

04.03.13

Categorie: David Axe, Robots, Wired |
Tags: , , ,

The Tern concept. <em>Art: Darpa</em>

The Tern concept. Art: Darpa

by DAVID AXE

The military’s next killer drone could be launched and landed aboard small surface warships, extending the reach of America’s robotic arsenal to more remote battlegrounds than ever before.

That is, if an ambitious new effort by Darpa, the Pentagon’s fringe-science wing, can overcome a technical challenge dating back to the 1980s. Namely: how to boost a drone to flight velocity without the benefit of a five-acre aircraft carrier deck, and without resorting to a speed- and range-limiting helicopter design.

The new Tactically Exploited Reconnaissance Node program, or Tern, “envisions using smaller ships as mobile launch and recovery sites for medium-altitude long-endurance fixed-wing unmanned aircraft,” Darpa announced on Friday. That’s for unarmed spy drones as well as those armed for “strike” missions. The blue-sky researchers want to launch a prototype within 40 months.

Read the rest at Danger Room.

|

2 Responses to “Danger Room: Pentagon’s Mad Scientists Want to Launch Killer Drones from Small Warships”

  1. I think it is only logical, as UAV’S become smaller and more powerful they can be launched from smaller platforms than aircraft carriers.
    It is a continuation of experiments dating back to the very beginning of mechanised sea warfare, so nothing new here, when all sorts of craft were launched from battleships, cruisers and submarines.

  2. Ant says:

    Hyperbolic headline aside, from this side of the pond this is a very interesting project. As you may recall, in the second switcheroo of the increasingly bizarre RN CVF project (CVF? No, me neither. Maybe CV FOREVER since that seems to be how long it takes to build) the government decided that they weren’t going to convert them to Cat&Trap but stay with the original STOVL design. That little hiatus in the middle there cost tens of millions in wasted time and effort, but hey ho.

    Now the big deal is that the RN, just as the world starts moving towards a set up where most airborne assets in most theatres are unmanned doesn’t have a platform capable of supporting the most capable of these. Namely, fixed wing stealthy nasties like the very excellent XB-47B and it’s ilk. While the USN must surely be looking at predator sized airframes and wondering how much Hawkeye kit they can squeeze in, the RN is left with but a single fixed wing asset available for its carriers- and that is the pricey and somewhat fighter like F-35.

    A tilt rotor would suit the RN down to the ground, but from experience they look pricey. If the USN get’s it together to make a suitable UAV out of this program though, expect to see chaps and chappesses with crowns and anchors on their hats beating path to Darpa.

Leave a Reply