DARPA program to develop long-range UAVs for launch from small ships

Military Aerospace and Electronics is reporting a contract, “…to develop a medium-altitude long-endurance UAV for long-term maritime surveillance that can launch and recover from relatively small ships to provide airborne intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance (ISR) and strike mobile targets anywhere, around the clock…The ultimate goal for a TERN UAV and launch system to enable persistent ISR and strike capabilities with payloads of 600 pounds while operating at ranges as long as 900 nautical miles from a host vessel.”

These would apparently be fixed wing UAVs , with two aircraft being able to maintain a 24 hour a day orbit. A flight demonstration is expected in 2017.

Note the small ships they refer to are only small compared to aircraft carriers, “The TERN system should be able to operate from several relatively small ship types in rough seas, including the 2,784-ton Independence-class littoral combat ship (LCS), which is 418 feet long and 104 feet wide, with a large aft-located flight deck. Other ships of interest are amphibious transport docks, dock landing ships, and Military Sealift Command cargo ships.”

They might still be capable of operating from some of the Coast Guard’s largest ships.

13 thoughts on “DARPA program to develop long-range UAVs for launch from small ships

    • I’m going to quote it here so that the update portion does not get lost, but there is other info on the LCS in the link as well that is interesting:

      “May-Sept 2014: TERN Phase II. In May 2014 DARPA signed a Memorandum of Agreement with the Office of Naval Research (ONR) that turned TERN into a joint program with the US Navy. ONR staffs Gil Graff as their deputy program manager under DARPA PM Daniel Patt. Patt hopes that this early partnership with a service could be a template for future similar agreements.

      “On September 22 DARPA then follows up with a modification to its HR0011-13-C-0096 contract issued in August 2013 in order to start Phase II of the program, under which Northrop Grumman in El Segundo, CA, receives $19.3 million, for a cumulative total of $22.1M so far. Work will be performed in El Segundo, CA (48%), San Diego, CA (30%), Cincinnati, Ohio (5%); Benbrook, TX (15%); and Mojave, CA (2%). Phase II is expected to be complete by the end of FY15.

      “Awards to other contractors are likely to follow suit as the program is still in its early design and risk reduction part, with the selection of a single contractor to build a full scale demonstrator planned for Phase III. “

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