The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency has awarded a series of phase one contracts to four companies for proposals to develop unmanned air systems that can be recovered while in flight and are reusable.
DARPA said Thursday it selected General Atomics‘ aeronautical systems unit, Lockheed Martin, Dynetics and Composite Engineering to develop launch and recovery techniques, airframe designs, digital flight control, relative navigation and station keeping for the Gremlins program.
Gremlins systems would be used in up to 20 instances and contain different types of mission payloads on one platform.
“We’ve assembled a motivated group of researchers and developers that we believe could make significant progress toward Gremlins’ vision of delivering distributed airborne capabilities,” said Dan Patt, a DARPA program manager.
The agency envisions Gremlins as a program that would utilize bombers and transport aircraft while out of range of target defenses to launch multiple UAS, then retrieve those same systems in mid-air after it accomplishes its missions.