The Air Force has inked a $15 million contract with the University of Dayton Research Institute to develop aircraft-launch drones.
The agreement is a five-year deal with the Air Force Research Laboratory at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base that will build sensors to communicate between aircraft and drones and develop mission tactics, according to UDRI.
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The drone can act as a second set of eyes for aircraft, such as flying under clouds or in inclement weather, UDRI lead project researcher Charles Lockhart said in a statement.
The project — called Air-Launched Off-Board Operations — lets the Air Force “quickly and affordably add or change sensors on the small (drone) systems that then seamlessly integrate with and bring new capabilities” to the launching aircraft, Lockhart said in a statement.
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The latest UDRI contract follows a $9.8 million deal reached with AFRL to develop more durable ceramic composite materials for what could be used in a future reusable hypersonic spy drone that flies six times the speed of sound, researchers have said.
The newly created materials could have both military and commercial uses, according to UDRI.