We think of drones as being a new invention that has only been around for the last few decades. The truth is that the military has been using drones, in one form or another, for almost 100 years. The first drone was a remote-controlled aircraft that Archibald Low invented for the RAF (royal air-force) of Great Britain. Since then the militaries of several countries have been using drones and just can't get enough of them. Now, here we are almost 100 years later since that first drone was went air-born and our military is ask for something new.
The United States' Navy has once again turned to DARPA (defense advanced research project agency) to come up with the next toy. This time around they want a new drone that is capable of being launched off of their Littoral Combat Ship. Not just any drone that can be launched will be good enough though an the U.S. Navy several specifications that must be meet for the new drone to be acceptable.
The first of these requirement is that it must have a 27-foot wingspan much like the predator drone, it must be able to carry a 600-pound payload upto a 900-mile radius from the LCS and fit into the required space aboard the ship.
“It’s like having a falcon return to the arm of any person equipped to receive it, instead of to the same static perch every time,” said Daniel Patt, DARPA program manager. “About 98 percent of the world’s land area lies within 900 nautical miles of ocean coastlines. Enabling small ships to launch and retrieve long-endurance UAVs on demand would greatly expand our situational awareness and our ability to quickly and flexibly engage in hotspots over land or water.”
DAPRA is hoping that they will have a work prototype in the next 40-months. They will first be choosing the winning contractor at their Proposers' day that will be held on Wednesday March 20, 2013.
"We're trying to rethink how the ship, UAV and launch and recovery domains – which have traditionally worked in parallel – can synergistically collaborate to help achieve the vision of base-independent operations for maritime or overland missions," Patt said.