The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) has been researching several types of swarm drone technology that could be used on the battlefield and According to Pentagon acquisition head Ellen Lord, one particular program has impressed Indian air force (IAF) due to which both the United States and India have discussed collaborating on such efforts to build a relatively low-cost unmanned aircraft that can be launched from a “mother ship” transport aircraft like C-130J which IAF already has in its fleet and then be recovered by the same mother ship after their mission is complete.

IAF also wants to include other “mother ship” transport aircraft like its C-17 fleet as well and primarily talks were held last year between two government officials about collaboration with US Air Force Research Laboratory and India’s Defence Research and Development Organization and further talks will likely be held later this year to work on the technicality of the proposed joint venture.

According to DARPA’s concept, a jet-powered drone can be launched from the C-130 wing pylons and recovered by using a docking cable and a crane-like recovery arm from the cargo door. DARPA is looking at the drones that can be used as a potential line-of-sight communications link in contested environments where radios could be jammed, as well as use its sensor platforms for surveillance and targeting.

IAF is impressed by the concept and jet-powered swarm drones could be developed under Defense Technology and Trade Initiative, or DTTI which will allow co-production and co-development opportunities for both governments. Each C-130J will be able to launch 4 such Jet powered SWARM drones which can be tasked to perform specific individual tasks and interact with each other using autonomous mode and all can be recovered within 20 minutes.

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