Leidos subsidiary Dynetics has carried out the flight test of the second X-61A Gremlins Air Vehicle (GAV).

Conducted at the Dugway Proving Ground in Utah, US, the testing included the Gremlins airborne recovery system.

The test series concentrated on lowering risk and verification of system and subsystem performance.

It covered all of Gremlins Demonstration System’s segments, which included the GAV. Take-off and recovery system, air operator control station, and the Gremlins command, control and communication system were also put to test.

The airborne recovery test is planned to be held later this year.

Dynetics Gremlins team programme manager Tim Keeter said: “We have taken a major step forward towards accomplishing airborne recovery, and we are ever so close to achieving it. 

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“Our second GAV flown to date performed very well, which increases our confidence in the X-61A. And for the first time, we rendezvoused and flew in close formation with the recovery C-130 multiple times using the Gremlins Autonomous Docking System (GADS). 

“Multiple captive tests were also conducted for the first time, with actively controlled GAVs attached to the stabilised towed docking device. This demonstrated the ability of the recovery system to safely reel in and stow GAVs once they have docked.

“The data collected from these tests will provide the necessary information to perform final tuning of GADS.”

X-61A GAV is being developed under the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency’s (DARPA) Gremlins programme.

The programme is managed by the Tactical Technology Office of DARPA.

The goal of Gremlins is to showcase the aerial launch and recovery of multiple low-cost reusable unmanned aerial vehicles (UAS).

Dynetics’ test was planned to be carried out earlier this year but was postponed due to the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic.  

The first flight test of X-61A GAV was conducted in January this year. 

In May this year, Dynetics won a $12.3m valued phase 1 of the Air Combat Evolution (ACE) programme, Technical Area 3 (TA3).