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DARPA’s Towed Airborne Lift of Naval Systems (TALONS) Concept Tested at Sea
 
DARPA’s Towed Airborne Lift of Naval Systems (TALONS) research effort recently demonstrated a prototype of a low-cost, fully automated parafoil system designed to extend maritime vessels’ long-distance communications and improve their domain awareness. Towed behind boats or ships, TALONS could carry intelligence, surveillance, reconnaissance and communications payloads of up to 150 pounds between 500 and 1,500 feet in altitude—many times higher than current ships’ masts—and greatly extend the equipment’s range and effectiveness.
DARPA’s Towed Airborne Lift of Naval Systems (TALONS) research effort recently demonstrated a prototype of a low-cost, fully automated parafoil system designed to extend maritime vessels’ long-distance communications and improve their domain awareness. Towed behind boats or ships, TALONS could carry intelligence, surveillance, reconnaissance and communications payloads of up to 150 pounds between 500 and 1,500 feet in altitude...
 
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Naval Forces News - USA
 
 
 
DARPA’s Towed Airborne Lift of Naval Systems (TALONS) Concept Tested at Sea
 
DARPA’s Towed Airborne Lift of Naval Systems (TALONS) research effort recently demonstrated a prototype of a low-cost, fully automated parafoil system designed to extend maritime vessels’ long-distance communications and improve their domain awareness. Towed behind boats or ships, TALONS could carry intelligence, surveillance, reconnaissance and communications payloads of up to 150 pounds between 500 and 1,500 feet in altitude—many times higher than current ships’ masts—and greatly extend the equipment’s range and effectiveness.
     
DARPA’s Towed Airborne Lift of Naval Systems (TALONS) research effort recently demonstrated a prototype of a low-cost, fully automated parafoil system designed to extend maritime vessels’ long-distance communications and improve their domain awareness. Towed behind boats or ships, TALONS could carry intelligence, surveillance, reconnaissance and communications payloads of up to 150 pounds between 500 and 1,500 feet in altitude—many times higher than current ships’ masts—and greatly extend the equipment’s range and effectiveness. DARPA’s Towed Airborne Lift of Naval Systems (TALONS) effort seeks to develop a low-cost, fully automated parafoil system to extend small ships’ long-distance communications and improve their maritime domain awareness. DARPA developed TALONS as part of Tern, a joint program between DARPA and the U.S. Navy’s Office of Naval Research that seeks to enable forward-deployed small ships to serve as mobile launch and recovery sites for medium-altitude, long-endurance unmanned aerial systems. and recovery sites for medium-altitude, long-endurance unmanned aerial systems.
     
DARPA has successfully tested a TALONS prototype that can be deployed by hand from smaller boats, or by mast from larger ships. Before open-water testing, TALONS’ rapid development began with land-based testing near Tucson, Arizona, in June 2014, followed by mock-up testing and measurement near Assateague Island National Seashore in Virginia in December of that year.

TALONS R&D began bench-testing the system in March 2015. Field testing on the water started in early May, and ran through June near Baltimore, Maryland, and Virginia Beach, Virginia. More than 20 TALONS flights were launched over that period, testing the system under various wind conditions and developing TALONS for different platforms.

In the Chesapeake Bay near Baltimore, the TALONS team improved hand-deployment techniques for smaller boats and sent the system up to 500 feet in altitude, tuning and programming automatic launch-and-recovery and autopilot systems. The Virginia Beach demonstration occurred several miles offshore and used a mast-deployment technique that extended TALONS’ reach to 1,000 feet in altitude to display the system’s utility for larger ships.

TALONS is part of DARPA’s Phase 1 research for Tern, a joint program between DARPA and the U.S. Navy’s Office of Naval Research. Following successful testing, DARPA may transition TALONS technology to the U.S. Navy.
     
At-sea tests demonstrate technology that could improve communications and situational awareness for large and small ships alike
     
Towed Airborne Lift of Naval Systems (TALONS):

DARPA’s TALONS effort seeks to develop a low-cost, fully automated parafoil system to extend small ships’ long-distance communications and improve their maritime domain awareness. Towed behind boats or ships, TALONS could carry ISR and communications payloads of up to 150 pounds between 500 and 1,500 feet in altitude—many times higher than current ships’ masts—and greatly extend the equipment’s range and effectiveness. Following successful ground-based tests, DARPA will conduct at-sea testing this year and potentially transition the technology to the U.S. Navy.

“Through SideArm, TALONS and other projects, DARPA aims to make it much easier, quicker and less expensive for the Defense Department to deploy persistent ISR and strike capabilities almost anywhere in the world,” said Dan Patt, DARPA program manager.