News | Oct 23, 2018

Navy launches first UAS test squadron; drone tech available for product development

TechLink can help your business acquire military-developed and tested technologies to feed the DoD's growing needs for unmanned vehicles

U.S. Marine Corps Cpl. Nicolas Seymour, a field radio operator with 3rd Battalion, 7th Marine Regiment, launches an RQ-20 Puma on July 26, 2018, in an undisclosed location in Southwest Asia.

Gabino Perez/USMC

PATUXENT RIVER, Md. – The U.S. Navy commissioned its first Unmanned Aircraft System (UAS) test-and-evaluation squadron during a ceremony on October 18 at Naval Air Station Patuxent River.

The new unit, Air Test and Evaluation Squadron (UX) 24, flies over 23 fixed and rotary-wing UAS including the MQ-8 Fire Scout, RQ-20 Puma, RQ-21 Blackjack, RQ-26 Aerostar, and some commercial systems.

During the ceremony, Cmdr. Matthew Densing officially assumed leadership of UX-24.

“This squadron centralizes the Navy’s technical excellence in unmanned aviation,” said Densing. “As the Navy continues to require the broad range of capability offered by UAS, UX-24 will always challenge the status quo.”

In April, the Chief of Naval Operations, Adm. John Richardson, approved the establishment of UX-24 to provide research, development, test and evaluation support for Navy and Marine Corps UAS as growth in the field required the establishment of a command dedicated to that mission. The ceremony marked the squadron’s official transition from what was formerly known as Naval Air Warfare Center-Aircraft Division’s UAS Test Directorate.

For over a decade, Department of Defense researchers have been inventing new technologies around UAS, also known as drones. In fact, military laboratories have invested heavily in novel drone concepts and technologies that have helped advance capabilities for civilian and military applications.

And technology transfer agreements–TechLink’s specialty–allow businesses to establish mutually beneficial relationships with these high-tech research centers. Companies, large and small, can leverage the military’s substantial investment in science and technology through license agreements and cooperative research and development agreements.

The first step is to find a technology you want to use for a new product or service(see list below or search the complete database), then write an email to one of our 10 technology managers. At no charge, TechLink’s expert staff will help connect you to these technologies and their inventors.

Terminal unmanned aerial vehicle

In three U.S. patents, the Navy has made available a lightweight, low-cost unmanned aerial vehicle that can be used for surveillance or attack. Designed to be hand launched and propelled by a rocket motor, the UAV glides through a spiral flight pattern while its sensors begin target acquisition. Identified targets can be finished with a self-destructing terminal attack using high explosives.

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Vigilant Spirit UAV ground control software

Vigilant Spirit UAV ground control software

Researchers at the Air Force Research Laboratory have built software that allows a single operator to efficiently and effectively control multiple UAVs. The Vigilant Spirit Ground Control Station software has been available to businesses through an Information Transfer Agreement, but the Air Force recently told TechLink that Vigilant Spirit would be made available for licensing, separate from an ITA, which would allow for redistribution to a company’s customers.

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Precision aerial delivery system – Electronic control unit

This is one of six related technologies developed at the Naval Postgraduate School and now available through express licensing. Precision aerial delivery systems (PADS) are designed and constructed to deliver payloads for strategic and operational logistical resupply with a predetermined accuracy specification. These devices include onboard, remotely controlled systems for loitering over an area. While payloads can vary from 10s to 1,000s of pounds, there is an interest in the ability to take advantage of UAVs and lightweight parafoils to provide reliable delivery of size and weight limited equipment and supplies to geographically dispersed people in austere locations and environments.

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Collisionless flying of unmanned aerial vehicles

The Army has developed a system and method for ensuring collisionless flight of three or more UAVs. Collisionless flight is achieved by overlaying a circulant digraph with certain characteristics over the area to be flown. Circulant digraphs are a type of directed graph or a set of vertices connected by arcs or directed edges of set jump sizes and which have a direction associated with them. Each UAV is assigned a flight path corresponding to a directed cycle of the circulant digraph where each vertex of the circulant digraph corresponds to two waypoints.

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Precision ground measurements from UAV platform

Navy researchers Michael Yeh, left, and Gary Lunt, at NSWC-Corona, fly their UAV measurement system configured to operate in a variety of locations to measure distances, determine ground points, analyze the speed of moving objects, and perform other velocity measurements and analyses. The UAS platform is configured to establish a measurement or coordinate area in which to detect objects, the distance between objects relative to each other, and the velocity of objects moving within the area.

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Extremely low-profile broadband antennas

Low-profile antennas are of particular importance for using the UHF band. In UAV applications, they reduce platform visibility and decrease overall antenna weight. This design by Army engineers minimizes the distance between the tuning element and the radiating aperture. A transverse resonance condition established between the walls of the antenna cavity and the anisotropic media suppresses the introduction of high order resonances added by the high refractive index of the medium.

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Low-cost drone swarm catapult

Through the Naval Postgraduate School, an officer has developed a rapid-fire launcher to deploy fixed-wing drone swarms. The technology is available to businesses for commercialization through a patent license agreement. According to the school, UAV launcher version one, capable of launching a six-pound UAV every 15 seconds at a speed of 35 MPH, came in at a material cost of $2,000—and a new upgraded version two, capable of launching a 30-pound UAV under the same parameters, cost $2,500 in materials.

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Headshot Image of Austin Leach, PhD, CLP

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