DARPA is Developing Drones that Multitask in Midflight
Kyle Maxey posted on June 07, 2017 |
DARPA looks for a more multipurpose UAS architecture to enhance mission capabilities on the fly.
(Image courtesy of DARPA.)

(Image courtesy of DARPA.)

Multi-purpose war machines could be in the military’s future as DARPA calls for an unmanned aerial system (UAS) that can perform electronic warfare, conduct communication and act as a mobile radar station all at the same time.

In light of that request, DARPA has announced that it will award BAE Systems two contracts worth $5.4 million USD to develop a single function payload that can deliver each of those capabilities.

Today’s drones can stay aloft for extended periods of time, providing valuable support services to soldiers on the ground. However, due to its size and carrying capacity, a UAS is only capable of holding a single payload dedicated to one operational goal. If military demands shift from electronic warfare to communication, the UAS must either land to be fitted with another payload, or multiple drones must be airborne in the same vicinity.

To solve this issue, BAE Systems will begin developing a project called “CONverged Collaborative Elements for RF Task Operations,” otherwise known as CONCERTO.

The CONCERTO program will be focused on developing UAS payloads that use a common radio frequency architecture sharing common hardware components, enabling a single UAS to swap its primary objective for another during a sortie. 

“This agility is particularly important in denied environments, where multiple mission functions are typically needed to penetrate defenses and remain operational,” explained Randall Lapierre, technology development manager at BAE Systems. “By enabling small platform systems to share core components, we’re helping them become more agile and stay on station longer.”

No timeline has been established for the delivery of the CONCEERTO system, but given the relatively narrow budget that BAE’s been afforded for the project, one has to imagine the program will begin delivering results in short order.

For more DARPA drone news, find out how this DARPA UAV Set a World Record for Endurance.

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