Initially, the Gremlins were supposed to de deployed from large aircraft like bombers or transport aircraft. That may change, according to The Maven, which says this type of machines would be launched from U.S. Air Force F-22s and F-35s as well.
This would make for a huge advancement for the project expected to enter testing stages next year.
The idea is to have the drones enter dangerous zones while the controlling aircraft is at a safe distance away. As soon as the mission is done – it can be anything from air-combat operations to weapons delivery – the drones are to be picked up by a C-130 transport aircraft. Each of the Gremlins will be built to be good for at least 20 missions and they are meant to fly in swarms.
“DARPA is progressing toward its plan to demonstrate airborne launch and recovery of multiple unmanned aerial systems, targeted for late 2019,” DARPA said in a statement.
“The team looked at how fifth generation aircraft systems like the F-35 and F-22 respond to threats, and how they could incorporate Gremlins in higher risk areas.”
Currently there are in excess of 11,000 various types of drones in service with the different branches of the American military. The majority of them is made of RQ-11 Ravens, a small hand-launched remote-controlled UAV.
The most recognizable of all is however the Predator, a remotely piloted aircraft developed by General Atomics. The machine is the probably the most experienced of them all, having seen action in Bosnia, Serbia, Iraq, Afghanistan and most recently Syria.