The US Air Force has awarded unmanned systems developer Silent Arrow a contract for the delivery of new cargo unmanned vehicles suited for side door and palletized swarm deployment at high speeds and altitudes.
The contract was awarded earlier this month through the Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL) and will see the company scale down its commercially successful GD-2000 (glider, disposable, 2000 pounds) platform.
As explained, the scaled down and redesigned drone will represent a new product line called the Silent Arrow Precision Guided Bundle (SA-PGB), which will initially be developed as an autonomous cargo delivery glider.
The SA-PGB is specifically designed for side door and multi-unit (swarm) ramp deployment, compatible with a much-expanded fleet of delivery aircraft ranging from the civilian Cessna Caravan to the military C-17.
The SA-PGB will be designed and built at Silent Arrow’s headquarters in Irvine, California and 15 aircraft will be shipped to the company’s flight test center in Pendleton, Oregon for operational evaluations at the Pendleton UAS Test Range.
Initial specifications include 500-pound max weight, 350-pound cargo capacity, 39 inches long and deployable from high altitudes and airspeeds, the company said.
“We’d like to thank the US Special Operations community, the US Air Force, Navy, Army and various other organizations who signed on to support this award for a new life-saving cargo delivery drone,” said Chip Yates, Silent Arrow’s founder and CEO. “We look forward to an exciting flight test program in 2022 and quickly getting this new capability into the hands of the warfighter and disaster relief organizations alike.”
The unmanned systems marketed by Silent Arrow feature a spring-deployed wing system, a 40-mile standoff distance and low unit cost. The company says its products already serve heavy-payload, autonomous cargo resupply needs throughout the world.