Dual Mode Small Gunship
New DARPA programs for 2007 include the Dual Mode Small Gunship, an existing low-cost small aircraft modified to carry sensors and weapons that can be controlled either remotely from the ground or by an on-board crew. Controlled directly by troops on the ground, the aircraft will provide a persistent strike capability, with the ability to have a pilot on board for deployment and safe operation over populated areas.
The objective of the Dual Mode Small Gunship program, an FY 2008 new start for DARPA, is to build, test and fly a low-cost small aircraft, configured with sensors, weapons and special equipment that are controlled either remotely or by a crew onboard. The vehicle will demonstrate persistent, sustained gunship and strike mission capabilities with troops on the ground directly commanding the aircraft's weapons and sensors. The gunship will give the ground warfighter particular advantage in urban environments where it will operate with high availability, fast response, precision strike and low collateral damage.
The ability to have a pilot on-board will allow for easy deployment to theater and safe operation over populated areas by allowing the pilot to interface with the air traffic control infrastructure rather than the current, cumbersome method of deploying large UAVs. The plan to "unman" an existing aircraft also minimizes development costs. The Dual Mode Small Gunship is expected to have low development and procurement costs, high endurance and range, a large payload, and high dash speeds with a day/night adverse weather capability. Potential customers include the Army, SOCOM, Marines, and AFSOC.
- Complete a preliminary feasibility study for modification of an existing low cost aircraft.
- Modify an existing low cost aircraft for use as an "optionally piloted" aircraft, with weapons systems and sensors.
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