Defense Companies Thinking of Launching Droves from Airborne Carriers

Posted on August 11, 2016 Henry Fayol Aerospace News

Kelsey D. Atherton released an article on Popular Science’s website that writes about how there is conversation amongst defense companies that are proposing to launch drones from aircrafts carriers that are already in flight.

In the past, the United States Airforce was afraid to lose their aircrafts in the sky to other external factors. However, with the rise of drones, the US Air Force is taking steps in order to have unmanned aircrafts (or drones) to be sent out of aircrafts in mid-flight as protection. In this way, The US Air Force aircrafts will still be able to remain stealthy by using sensors.

One obstacle that the US Air Force is now facing is keeping the cost of the drones low. They want to implement these drones into many different types of small planes that don’t require much fuel or electrical power.

As of right now, DARPA’s plan is to have drones launch from adapted cargo planes. Not only should these drones be launched from the cargo planes, the drones would also be able to land back in the cargo planes as well.

However there are companies like SAIC and ArcXeon that want plans to take off from airships instead of adapted cargo planes. Here is what AirStation has to say about it this. “Airships themselves have been proposed as long-endurance surveillance platforms, but U.S. Army and Air Force programs started during the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan were ultimately canceled. Instead, says [SAIC senior aerospace engineer Ron] Hochstetler, the trend has been toward a more distributed, multiplatform, multisensor capability using small- and medium-size UAS.

But conventional UAS require support infrastructure and

“their ground- and ship-based launch sites cannot be quickly relocated as needed, and are often unable to operate on land or ocean areas due to political sensitivities,” Hochstetler argues. “For UAS operations to fully reach their maximum capability, they require the mobility and geographical independence of an airborne support platform dedicated to UAS launch and recovery operations,” he says.”

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