California-based Yates Electrospace Corp. is to develop modifications of its Silent Arrow glider under an Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL) contract for swarm deployments at high speeds and altitudes, the company said on Nov. 29.

The contract, “Guided Bundle Derivative of Silent Arrow® for Side Door and Palletized Swarm Deployment at High Speeds and Altitudes,” took effect on Nov. 12, Yates Electrospace said.

Under the Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) Phase II contract, the commercial 2,000-pound GD-2000 Silent Arrow glider “will be scaled down and redesigned as a new product line called the Silent Arrow® Precision Guided Bundle (SA-PGB), which will initially be developed as an autonomous cargo delivery glider,” the company said. “The SA-PGB is specifically designed for side door and multi-unit (swarm) ramp deployment, compatible with a much-expanded fleet of delivery aircraft ranging from the civilian Cessna Caravan to the military C-17.”

The SA-PGB, which is to have a maximum weight of 500 pounds and a 350-pound cargo capacity, is to undergo operational testing at high altitudes and airspeeds at the Federal Aviation Administration-certified Pendeton UAS Test Range in Oregon.

Yates has been awaiting a SBIR Phase II award from AFWERX and AFRL for Silent Arrow flight testing aboard the Bell [TXT]-Boeing [BA] CV-22 tiltrotor employed by Air Force Special Operations Command (Defense Daily, Feb. 22).

If proven, Silent Arrow would deliver 1,600 pounds of cargo to forward deployed forces from a CV-22 from a distance of up to 40 miles.

Such supplies could include 336 MREs or 125 gallons of JP-5/JP-8 jet fuel, landing within 100 meters of landing zones using Silent Arrow’s Light Detection and Ranging sensor (LiDAR).

Under a SBIR Phase I contract announced by Yates Electrospace earlier this year, the company is to scale down its GD-2000 “for CV-22 cargo ramp and smaller fixed-wing side-door deployment activities for unspecified U.S. operations,” the company said. “In accordance with the tenets of the SBIR program, Silent Arrow® heavy payload cargo UAS will subsequently be procurable on a sole-source basis by the United States government for special operations and tactical resupply as well as humanitarian aid and disaster relief.”

The Phase I SBIR contract is entitled Feasibility of Downsizing and Adapting Commercial Silent Arrow® Cargo Delivery UAS to Meet Specific AFSOC Operational Requirements and is valid through May 9, according to Yates Electrospace.

Chip Yates, the company’s CEO and an electrical vehicle inventor and record holder for electric motorcycles and planes, has said that the company was encouraged to apply for the Phase I SBIR contract as a result of the company’s previous work with AFSOC, including deploying Silent Arrow from AFSOC MC-130s by Lockheed Martin [LMT].