Silent Arrow has been tapped by the U.S. military to develop a cargo drone capable of traveling long distances.
The company said today that AFWERX, a research and development unit within the U.S. Air Force granted it a Small Business Innovation Research contract focused on the Silent Arrow CLS-300. The aircraft is based on Silent Arrow’s GD-2000, a heavy payload autonomous vehicle that can carry up to 1,500 pounds of cargo more than 35 nautical miles.
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The new iteration of the craft, which is deployed from cargo aircraft such as the Lockheed Martin C-130, Boeing C-17 and Airbus A400M, will significantly increase its range. Silent Arrow said the CLS-300 will be able to travel nearly 10 times as far by using a propulsion unit and propeller system. The low cost of production makes the drone “attritable,” which means a large amount of them can be produced to reduce service disruptions even if multiple aircraft are lost or shot down.
The CLS-300 is air droppable, but it can also launch from the ground, naval vessels and other launch points.
"We'd like to thank the U.S. Air Force, AFWERX, AFRL and our Air Force Customer and End-User organizations for their confidence in awarding this disruptive program," said Chip Yates, Silent Arrow's Founder and CEO. "We are looking forward to a compressed schedule with propulsion tests in the first half of 2024 followed by flight tests in the second half of 2024 so that we may rapidly deliver this critical capability to warfighters operating in harm's way as well as to humanitarian and disaster relief organizations serving those in need."