The Silent Arrow glider, developed by California-based Yates Electrospace Corp., looks for a Phase II small business innovation research (SBIR) award by AFWERX and the Air Force Research Laboratory this spring for flight testing aboard the Bell [TXT]-Boeing [BA] CV-22 tiltrotor employed by Air Force Special Operations Command (AFSOC).
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 Feb. 5 SBIR Phase I contract announced by Yates Electrospace on Feb. 16, the company is to scale down its Glider Disposable-2000 (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 motorcyles and planes, wrote in an email 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].
Yates Electrospace’s SBIR Phase I contract “ends May 9th then Phase II begins and contract values grow as flight testing begins,” Yates wrote in his email. “The next step is working with the CV-22 folks, reviewing their rigging manuals and procedures and collecting a set of operational requirements that will drive the scale down design.”
In his email, Yates wrote that his company, because of its work on Silent Arrow, is a finalist for the National Aeronautic Association’s (NAA) 2020 Collier Trophy to be announced on Feb. 24. NAA awards the Robert J. Collier Trophy annually “for the greatest achievement in aeronautics or astronautics in America, with respect to improving the performance, efficiency, and safety of air or space vehicles, the value of which has been thoroughly demonstrated by actual use during the preceding year.”
While the U.S. Army parachute-deployed Joint Precision Airdrop System (JPADS) by New Jersey-based Airborne Systems North America and Draper Laboratory, Inc. is to deliver supplies up to 15 miles away at a unit cost of $60,000, Silent Arrow has the “same payload as JPADS at half the price and more than double the standoff range,” Yates Electrospace said.