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Launch, Recovery and Handling of Group 3 through Group 5 Unmanned Aerial Vehicles Aboard Navy's Expeditionary Sea Base

Award Information
Agency: Department of Defense
Branch: Navy
Contract: N68335-23-C-0268
Agency Tracking Number: N211-029-1138
Amount: $599,752.00
Phase: Phase II
Program: SBIR
Solicitation Topic Code: N211-029
Solicitation Number: 21.1
Solicitation Year: 2021
Award Year: 2023
Award Start Date (Proposal Award Date): 2023-05-05
Award End Date (Contract End Date): 2024-05-15
Small Business Information
35 Wiggins Ave
Bedford, MA 01730-3942
United States
DUNS: 602959579
HUBZone Owned: No
Woman Owned: No
Socially and Economically Disadvantaged: No
Principal Investigator
 David Cope
 (781) 275-9444
Business Contact
 Michael Kempkes
Phone: (781) 275-9444
Research Institution

Operation of Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) from large ships represents a disruptive technology for the Navy as it expands UAV capabilities and sortie rates, including swarm launch and recovery. Recently, the Navy has developed new technical paradigms to solve the many challenges associated with UAV operations from ships other than aircraft carriers, including launch and recovery of Group 3 through 5 UAVs subject to strong winds and high sea-states. Large fixed wing UAVs operating from ships offer tremendous potential to the Navy to provide Intelligence/Surveillance/Reconnaissance (ISR), increased lethality, ship self-defense, and ‘loyal wingman’ support for manned aircraft.   Diversified Technologies Inc. (DTI) proposes to develop a launch and recovery system for Group  to Group 5 UAVs. This system consists of a stowable sponson assembly mounted outside the hull of large ships such as ESB-class vessels. The sponsons consists of rigid lattice frames of stowable outriggers bearing support cables that, in turn, support and guide a carriage to launch or recover the UAV with or without landing gear. The sponsons can be folded upward, downward, or forward for storage. The carriage is controlled by a drive cable that connects to motors that both accelerate and decelerate the system. The motors are located below deck and operated by closed-loop controls. The power system supplies or absorbs the required aircraft energy for launch and recovery, respectively. The system is bidirectional and can launch and recover UAVs approaching from either the bow or the stern of the ship. An articulating arm rapidly loads and unloads the UAVs. The DTI launch and recovery system requires minimal modifications to the UAVs. Many system components are available commercially-off-the-shelf reducing costs and easing supply chain worries. The entire system can also be built as a compact and portable ground-based system. Minimal site preparation is needed, all that is needed is a reasonably flat site. The sponson / outriggers would be replaced by a support frame at each end secured on temporary foundations by ground anchors. The machinery would be located on a skid that can either be truck / trailer mounted or ground anchored on a temporary foundation. The cable based system does not need precise alignment of the mechanical components further simplifying the installation. The work plan summary is: Base period is a system design and critical components testing effort; Option 1 is a scaled launcher system fabrication and testing effort; and Option 2 is a scaled recovery system fabrication and testing effort. Near the end of the effort, we anticipate using Group 3 UAVs to validate the system.

* Information listed above is at the time of submission. *

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