The US Air Force has contracted California-based company Silent Arrow to develop an aircraft-dropped unmanned cargo delivery glider.
Called the Precision Guided Bundle, the glider will be a scaled-down, redesigned version of Silent Arrow’s GD-2000 (Glider, Disposable, 2,000 pounds) platform.
Multi-Unit Air Deployment
The air force wants the autonomous aircraft to be designed for “side door and multi-unit (swarm) ramp deployment,” compatible with a range of cargo aircraft from the civilian Cessna Caravan to the military C-17.
Silent Arrow founder and CEO Chip Yates said, “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 39-inch (99-cm) long, 500-lb (227-kg) disposable delivery vehicle will be deployable at high altitudes and airspeeds, carrying up to 350 pounds (159 kg) of cargo.
The company’s GD-series glider features spring-loaded wings packed in a compact fuselage and comes with 2.5 times the standoff capability (40m/64km) of the army’s Joint Precision Airdrop System at half the cost.
For operational evaluation, the company will design 15 unmanned gliders at its Irvine headquarters and ship them to its flight test center in Pendleton, Oregon.