Silent Arrow cargo delivery drone was designed and developed by Yates Electrospace Corporation (YEC). It was rolled out at the Defense & Security Equipment International (DSEI) show held in London in September 2019.
The autonomous cargo delivery vehicle is developed to provide swift and life-saving aerial resupply response to militaries and civilians in emergency situations. It supports military and humanitarian assistance missions.
Silent Arrow is offered in four variants namely GD-2000 WB (wide-body), GR-2000, ER-2000, and GD-800. The GR-2000 variant is intended for humanitarian aid missions, while the ER-2000 is an electric-powered variant. The GD-800 version is designed for launch from the side door of an aircraft.
Silent Arrow cargo delivery drone development details
YEC inked global development and distribution agreements for the drone with multiple partners in various regions and countries, including the EU, Australia, South Korea, Brazil, Singapore, and India. MEL Group holds exclusive rights to produce and distribute the drones for European markets.
YEC signed a development contract with the US Special Operations Command (USSOCOM) to conduct high-altitude airdrop testing and evaluate airworthiness and performance of Silent Arrow in November 2019.
YEC and Air Force Special Operations Command (AFSOC) plan to conduct multiple medium and high-altitude airdrops of Silent Arrow GD-200 from aircraft between February and May 2020.
Silent Arrow cargo delivery drone design and features
Silent Arrow is an autonomous, disposable glider aircraft designed for autonomous cargo delivery. It is classified under tandem-wing glider aircraft category.
The unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) features a spring-deployed wing configuration, with a wingspan of 8.5m (28ft). It has a static line deployment configuration with full-span elevons on all its wings. It maintains a glide ratio of 8.4:1 when installed with a tail cone.
The fuselage measures 2.4m-long and 0.6m-wide and accommodates four wings above its forward and rear sections.
The drone has a gross weight of 907kg and can deliver a maximum payload of 740kg. It offers a maximum cargo volume of 75m³.
Designed with an improved landing accuracy of 100m and zero vertical impact force, the glider features full stall landing capability with greater stealth.
The Silent Arrow cargo delivery drone is equipped with a modified commercial-off-the-shelf (COTS) Pixhawk Cube autopilot system. It also features a global positioning system (GPS), magnetometer, barometer, inertial measurement unit (IMU), and a light detection and ranging (LiDAR) device.
It uses an Android Tactical Assault Kit (ATAK) programming interface and can optionally be integrated with an optional radio frequency (RF) and first-person-view (FPV) systems.
Silent Arrow drone launch and recovery
The Silent Arrow GD-2000 is air-dropped from a maximum altitude of 25,000ft by fixed-wing aircraft and rotorcraft such as the C-17, C-130, CH-53, V-22, and UH-1H Huey. It can be carried either internally or as a sling load.
The Silent Arrow ER-Series cargo delivery drone has a ground-based take-off feature. It can be recovered from the improvised airfields and airdrop method.
The autonomous glider has a stand-off range of 64km and stall speeds of 62kt and 92kt while carrying payloads of 453kg (1,000lb) and 907kg (2,000lb), respectively. The vehicle has a fuel capacity of 473l.
Standard cargo transported by the vehicle includes medicines, ready-to-eat meals (MREs), ammunition, water, fuel, and batteries.
Cargo delivery by the Silent Arrow drone provides 50% cost savings, compared to conventional joint precision airdrop systems (JPADS), claims YEC.