Dynetics wins DARPA contract for Gremlin swarming drones

By Dynetics | March 16, 2017

Dynetics Inc. of Huntsville, Alabama, has been awarded a contract for Phase 2 of the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA)’s Gremlins program. The technology program's goal is to enable aircraft to launch volleys of low-cost reusable unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) and safely and reliably retrieve them in midair.

The Gremlins architecture is designed to enable other technologies such as advanced payloads and autonomous battle management for swarming systems.

Beginning this month, Phase 2 is a planned 12-month effort worth up to $21 million in which Dynetics seeks to develop a detailed system design and mature technologies that are critical to achieving Gremlins’ challenging goals.

Mark Miller, Dynetics’ Gremlins program manager, said, “We are very pleased and excited that DARPA selected our Gremlins design. This opportunity expands previous work we have performed developing and rapidly fielding air-launched systems and leverages our creativity and agility. Our goal is to not only successfully complete the Gremlins demonstration for DARPA but to also help eventually transition this capability in some form to the warfighter.”

Dynetics has assembled a team of technology providers including Kratos Defense & Security Solutions Inc., Sierra Nevada Corp., Applied Systems Engineering Inc., Williams International, Systima Technologies Inc., Airborne Systems, Moog Inc. and International Air Response.

“Our team is made up of multiple divisions within our company providing a diverse set of expertise, and our subcontractors represent the best in their class for their assigned roles. We understand this important challenge is essential for our nation’s defense capability. Successful execution of Gremlins would lay the groundwork for the future use of swarming, recoverable systems for multiple missions,” said Tim Keeter, Dynetics deputy program manager and chief engineer for Gremlins.

During Phase 1, Dynetics successfully designed flight demonstration concepts for launch and recovery techniques, low-cost limited airframe designs and high-fidelity analysis, precision digital flight control, relative navigation and station keeping. The company was one of four competing companies awarded a contract in Phase 1.

In Phase 2, the focus is on technology maturation. Phase 3 will aim to finalize the design and ultimately demonstrate the ability to launch Gremlins air vehicles and then safely recover them onto a C-130 aircraft. Based on Phase 2 results, DARPA plans to award Phase 3 in early 2018.