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On September 15th, General Atomics Aeronautical Systems (GA-ASI) tweeted enthusiastically: “We never stop innovating. Meet #Sparrowhawk... our airborne launch and recovery demonstrator aircraft. Flight tests this week to demonstrate avionics systems and autonomy engine. Stay tuned! ”With this tweet, the aviation group commented on the successful first test flights of the new SparrowHawk drone.

During the test flights, work will continue on the swarm functionality of the SparrowHawk drones. SparrowHawk is an unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) newly developed by GA-ASI, which can be used as a "small" drone and payload by a larger drone of the Medium Altitude Long Endurance (MALE) class, e.g. the MQ-9 Reaper of the US Air Force ( USAF) or MQ-1C-Gray Eagle of the US Army can be dropped and picked up again.

SparrowHawk is a drone that can be dropped and picked up by larger MALE drones.
Photo: GA-ASI

So far, all that was known was that a prototype was being produced that was to fly for the first time in 2020, but subject to funding from the armed forces. According to GA-ASI's considerations, the new UAV could then be available to customers from 2021. Now the first glide or even flight tests seem to have taken place.

SparrowHawk weighs approximately 91 kg and can carry a payload of around 13.6 kg. The range is specified as 174 nm (322 km). The company does not currently want to provide any information on the engine used or other flight parameters. The development was previously self-financed by GA-ASI and is not (yet) an official USAF project.

SparrowHawk weighs approximately 91 kg and can carry a payload of around 13.6 kg.
Photo: GA-ASI

SparrowHawk is practically an offshoot of the failed offer for the US Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency's (DARPA) gremlins program. At that time, the contract went to Dynetics. At that time a UAV was to be developed that would be launched from a Lockheed Martin C-130J transport aircraft and then picked up again after the reconnaissance mission.

André Forkert