Gremlins continues to progress during the demonstration phase

Wednesday September 25, 2019

Dynetics is currently executing the demonstration phase (Phase III) of the DARPA Gremlins program. Take a look at our recent milestones to see how we're preparing to deliver an entirely new capability to the warfighter. 

2019 Milestones

February 2019: Recovery System Flight Testing. In early February, the Dynetics Gremlins team conducted a flight test of the docking system, onboard and ground-based control stations, and data links. The towed docking device (a.k.a. the "Bullet"), augmented now with an active control system, demonstrated the ability to improve overall system performance for airborne recovery, even in turns. Tim Keeter, Program Manager, noted the significance of this achievement. "The Bullet needs to remain as still as possible once it's deployed in flight to improve docking performance for the Gremlins Air Vehicle," he said. "The active control does a great job quickly recovering from disturbances due to turbulence and C-130 motion."

March 2019: In-Flight Simulation. In March, the Dynetics team reached another milestone by accomplishing the first flight of the Gremlins Air Vehicle (GAV) avionics. GAV avionics were installed onboard the Calspan Variable Stability System (VSS) Lear Jet, which was also configured to mimic the performance characteristics of the GAV. Once the Lear Jet entered the test range, the Gremlins control station took over control of the jet, directing it to fly multiple race tracks and maneuvers. The team conducted handovers between multiple in-flight and ground-based control stations to demonstrate the flexibility and redundancy of the integrated system and test the safety modes for the GAV. "The Calspan VSS is truly an awesome capability, allowing us to fully exercise the integrated avionics, control station, and data links prior to the first GAV flight later this summer," said Keeter.

July 2019: Gremlins Stakeholder's Day. The team recently held an event on the Dynetics corporate campus, bringing dozens of Gremlins stakeholders to tour the facilities and take part in numerous demonstrations. Participants sat in on a live engine test and watched a demonstration of the recovery system that will be installed in the C130.

August 2019: X-61A Designation. The U.S. Air Force assigned the X-61A designation to the Dynetics Gremlins program. X-planes have historically been at the forefront of DoD aerospace research, so the designation provides an acknowledgement of the technical challenges of the Gremlins program. 

What's Next?

The entire Gremlins team is gearing up to begin flight testing of the integrated Gremlins system. First up is the checkout flight of the Gremlins Air Vehicle (GAV) followed by early recovery attempts.  Once the team achieves its first recovery, they will build up to the final demonstration attempt: recovering four GAVs in under 30 minutes.

The Gremlins team is up to the task. "Working with our exceptional industry partners has both strengthened existing business relationships and forged new, strategic ones," says Keeter. "Our existing Gremlins team is well-positioned to tackle new technology programs together as well as mature Gremlins to an operational capability."

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