The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) has finished the first phase of its Gremlins program, designed to develop and produce swarms of low-cost unmanned aerial systems (UAS) that can be launched and recovered in midair. The agency and the project’s manufacturer, Dynetics, Inc., of Huntsville, Ala., are confident that existing aircraft can accommodate the UAS with little modification. The next phase will focus on developing “aircraft carriers in the sky,” which would recover UAS that can carry a variety of payloads. In time, nearly any fixed-wing aircraft in the U.S. inventory could be able to launch Gremlins, far from harm’s way. C-130 Hercules transports would then recover them, once their mission is complete.
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