California’s July earthquakes apparently threw a wrench in DARPA’s StarCraft-style drone swarm
The series of earthquakes that rocked Naval Air Weapons Station China Lake in California on July 4 and 5 of this year will
end up costing the service more than $5 billion to return the essential weapons and aircraft testing facility to mission capable status.
Now it looks like those quakes have foisted a new cost on another service: critical testing time for a mothership-deployed swarm system eerily
reminiscent of those damn Protoss carriers from StarCraft.
The War Zone, which
first publicized that $5 billion reconstruction cost back in August, now reports that the Air Force’s plans to conduct flight tests for the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency’s air-launched and recoverable X-61A Gremlin Unmanned Aerial Systems are facing signifiicant delays due to the damage to China Lake, according to Gremlin manufacturer Dynetics.
“It’s limited range access. They’ve got a lot of damage that’s been done,” Tim Keeter, Dynetics program manager for the Gremlin UAS,
said of the damage China Lake in a recent interview in Air Force Magazine. “They’ve got a lot of things to take care of in terms of infrastructure before they can support a flight test … like this.”
Flight Global, which first reported news of the delayed Gremlin testing in September 2019, noted that Dynetics is “ready to demonstrate the aircraft” by deploying the drones from the wing pylons of Air Force C-130 Hercules recovering them with a mechanical arm extended from the aircraft’s rear cargo ramp.
Unfortunately, the July earthquakes “broke a critical piece of testing equipment, called the flight termination system,” as Flight Global reports. “This ground equipment is needed to terminate a flight demonstration that goes awry.” …read more
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