A long-endurance hybrid-electric Skyfront Perimeter drone just set a new maritime milestone, completing the first ship-to-submarine delivery via small unmanned aircraft.
Taking off from a moving surface vessel, the delivery drone ferried supplies to the crew of the U.S. Navy’s Ohio-class ballistic missile submarine USS Henry M. Jackson (no word if any sub sandwiches were included).
The drone delivery flight unveiled Skyfront’s command and control handoff capability. During the flight, pilots aboard the ship launched the drone and flew it near the submarine. Once there, pilots aboard the submarine took control of the drone and released the package onto the top of the sub. Again, we’re still waiting for the Pentagon to confirm or deny the presence of sub sandwiches (wouldn’t you include one?).
What is Skyfront?
Skyfront manufactures long-endurance, hybrid-electric multirotor drones in the world capable of flight times of up to 5 hours. The drones are also equipped for beyond-visual-line-of-sight missions, including video, telemetry and control links up to 60 miles away from the ground control station. “Customers use the Perimeter for inspection and surveillance missions worldwide due to extremely long flight times, communications range, safety and rapid deployment and ease of use,” a Skyfront spokesperson said.
Command and Control Optional
Skyfront officials note that command-and-control handoff is offered as an option on all its Perimeter drones, including those integrated with Silvus Technologies’ Streamcaster radios for the data link and Optimum Solutions’ long-range tracking antennas. The option allows an unlimited number of pilots and ground control stations to seamlessly view video from and take control of the Perimeter at any time. Pilots can control the drone with a joystick or with Skyfront’s satellite map software.
“The capability is essential for long range missions to maintain line-of-sight control by using multiple distributed pilots to comply with some countries’ aviation rules and regulations. It also allows pilots to maintain full control of the vehicle while flying over rugged terrain where radio links are likely to be compromised by line-of-sight obstructions.”
Navies worldwide are finding new uses for drones.
The Royal Canadian Navy’s Kingston-class coastal defense ships deploys Puma fixed-wing drones to provide beyond-visual-line-of-sight intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance, a naval release stated.
Manufactured by AeroVironment, the drone can stay aloft for two hours and fly as high as 10,500 feet with a range of 12 nautical miles. The naval model will be equipped with optical and infrared cameras that can to capture still imagery and video.