Over the past few years DARPA has been working on their version of the old U-Boat kite.
ICYMI, during WWII, the Kriegsmarine’s U-boat fleet used about 200~ Focke-Achgelis FA 330 Bachstelze (English: Wagtail) aircraft. The FA330 was a type of rotary-wing kite that weighed about 150-pounds and, using an unpowered 24-foot three-bladed rotor for lift, was winched out into the air behind a U-boat on a 500-foot cable, allowing the adventuresome sailor in its single seat to have the best view on the boote.
A simple idea, they were complicated in use as they took a long time (20-30 minutes to assemble) and, if the kiteman saw an enemy warship, slowed the dive of the submarine far too long than was safe.
Well, the ONR and DARPA have teamed up to do the same thing but in an updated (and unmanned) version that swaps out the rotating kite wing for a much safer parafoil.
Observe the Towed Airborne Lift of Naval Systems (TALONS) below, a low-cost, elevated sensor mast being tested out on USS Zephyr, a 179-foot Cyclone-class patrol coastal. It is the first time it was used aboard a U.S. Navy vessel, after being trialed on Sea Hunter, DARPA’s ACTUV vessel last year.
“Towed behind boats or ships, TALONS could persistently carry intelligence, surveillance, reconnaissance (ISR), and communications payloads of up to 150 pounds between 500 and 1,500 feet in altitude—many times higher than current ships’ masts—and greatly extend the equipment’s range and effectiveness.”
We’ve talked about DARPA’s 132-foot USV robot subchaser, the Anti-Submarine Warfare Continuous Trail Unmanned Vessel (ACTUV), dubbed Sea Hunter, a few times already this year.
The ship’s projected $20 million all-up price tag and its $15,000 to $20,000 daily operating cost make it relatively inexpensive to operate. For comparison, a single Littoral Combat Ship runs $432 million (at least LCS-6 did) to build and run about $220K a day to operate– but of course that is a moving target.
We’ve also talked about their Towed Airborne Lift of Naval Systems (TALONS) U-boat kite program which is a low-cost, fully automated parafoil system designed to extend maritime vessels’ long-distance communications and improve their domain awareness.
Towed behind boats or ships, TALONS could carry intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance and communications payloads of up to 150 pounds between 500 and 1,500 feet in altitude—many times higher than current ships’ masts—and greatly extend the equipment’s range and effectiveness.
So it makes sense that now video has emerged from DARPA of Sea Hunter taking its para-sail for a drag.
Now if they Navy can just cough up 50-100 of these, with ASW weapons and an automated C-RAM to avoid being splashed by enemy aircraft wholesale, and keep it from running $30 billion– then you have a real sea control ship when it comes to denying an area to the bad guy’s subs.
With rising crime, downsized police forces, and no help in sight, some neighborhoods are dipping into their own pocketbooks to hire private security firms. The guard’s job: pick up where the police cant.
Oakland California is a community that has tried to remake itself several times over the past century. Currently, it is in the middle of a perfect storm. Since 2009, the city of 400,000 has seen its full-time police force drop from more than 830 sworn officers to just 615. In the same time, not surprisingly, the crime rate has soared. In fact, since 2012, robberies in Oakland are up 24% and burglaries have increased a whopping 45%. This led to the disquieting fact that law-abiding citizens in residential areas were liable to be robbed while out and return home afterward to a burglarized home. Police response times lagged. The average response time for a burglary of a dwelling in progress last year was 17 minutes.
So the citizens have started renting their cops…
Read the rest in my column at Firearms Talk.com