Silent Arrow’s Autonomous Resupply Gliders

As reported this year by Thedrive.com’s The Warzone, gliders dropped from a variety of aircraft potentially could resupply small troop units in the field. Silent Arrow aims to resupply troops for half the traditional cost using disposable autonomous gliders. It turns out that researchers have already completed multiple deliveries using autonomous Silent Arrow GD-2000 cargo gliders launched from C-130 cargo aircraft. The GD-2000 can carry up to 1,631 pounds of payload and deliver it within 40 nautical miles when dropped from a fixed-wing aircraft from 25,000 feet. Helicopters offer a 15-mile standoff range. Silent Arrow claims it can deliver 26 cubic feet of cargo within 100 meters of the target destination.

How it works: “The GD-2000’s rectangular fuselage consists of a 2-foot by 2-foot by 8-foot container with a removable lid that contains the drone’s four 7-foot pop-out wings. Once loaded, the GD-2000’s nose cone and tail are installed on its fuselage and static lines are attached to its host aircraft. When the GD-2000 is pushed out of the aircraft, those static lines remove pins from the closed wings, allowing them to spring open even at airspeeds up to 130 knots. The gliders have a stall speed of 62 knots when half-loaded and 92 knots when fully loaded. …The gliders can be programmed using the Android Tactical Assault Kit, enabling them to be controlled by a variety of off-the-shelf or military mobile devices.”

Silent Arrow features a spring-deployed wing configuration, with a wingspan of 8.5m (28ft). It maintains a glide ratio of 8.4:1 when installed with a tail cone. Avionics include a Pixhawk Cube autopilot, magnetometer, barometer, GPS navigation system, and LiDAR rangefinder. First-person video and radiofrequency (RF) capabilities are optional. A smaller version of the glider is also offered. Photo sequence shows the GD-2000 WB (wide-body). Other versions include the electric-powered ER-2000, the GD-800, which is launched from an aircraft side door, and the GR-2000, which is for humanitarian aid missions. Watch video of cargo delivery here.

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