After a failureTests conducted last December since three drones had to make emergency parachute landings. Last month, a C-130 using a specially modified Lockheed was able to successfully recover one of two X-61 Gremlin drones in mid-air. while the process in no way looks easy, the achievement promises to dramatically increase the operating range of these types of aircraft.
The first demonstrated using hardware similar to modern air-to-air refueling techniques is back to 1935. The fighter planes, which are designed to be fast and burn through fuel, were no longer operationally limited by how far a plane could fly on a full tank of gas. Those planes could participate in much longer missions. Also refilling without finding a safe place to land first, by simply joining up with a tanker plane mid-flight.
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The importance of the Gremlins program
There are places where it’s not safe for human pilots to operate, so DARPA (the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency) came up with this program.
The goal of the Gremlins program is to use a larger aircraft, to deliver a drone to a safe region. This aircraft can launch the drone in mid-air, finish its mission, then return to safe airspace. where the cargo plane can snatch it and carry it the rest of the way back to a military base or another airport. Their specialists could refurbish and prepare it for the next mission in less than 24 hours.
With the Technique of Mid-air refueling, planes can stay aloft forever, but there are two problems that force fighter jets to land. Pilot fatigue and maintenance needs.
The maintenance problem it looks like the U.S. military has taken a big step toward solving. However, all humans eventually need food and sleep. Engineers could also solve the human pilot problem. Through the use of drones that fly autonomously, carrying out pre-programmed missions based on GPS and other data. Or pilots can control it safely miles away sitting in what looks like an ultimate video game flight simulator