US Army successfully launches Altius 700 drone from Black Hawk helicopter

The U.S. Army’s Uncrewed Aircraft Systems Project Management Office, in collaboration with the U.S. Special Operations Command, recently executed a successful flight demonstration involving the inaugural launch of the Air-Launched, Tube-Integrated Unmanned System (Altius) 700 air vehicle on December 3 at Fort Campbell, Kentucky.

According to the Army’s project manager for unmanned aircraft systems, this event marks a significant milestone within the Launched Effects program.

Using a Black Hawk helicopter as the launch platform, the demonstration served as a crucial risk mitigation exercise for future Altius 700 test flights. The Altius system meets size, weight, and power requirements outlined in the approved May 2020 Launched Effects Abbreviated Capabilities Development Document.

The Launched Effects initiative aims to provide essential capabilities to the Army, enhancing synergy between crewed and uncrewed systems for identifying, locating, and reporting imminent threats in contested environments. These transformative capabilities empower Corps, Division, and Joint commanders with improved targeting abilities for precise fires and effects during large-scale combat operations.

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The two-flight demonstration provided valuable data affirming the Altius 700’s performance across operational phases, including launch, flight, landing, and recovery. These insights will refine the system’s design and operational protocols in preparation for upcoming test flights.

The schedule includes the inaugural test flight of the fully integrated launched effects prototype in early 2024. This test will assess the prototype’s ability to control payloads and mission systems through the Scalable Control Interface software. Subsequent tests will follow, leading to a final operational demonstration by fiscal year 2024’s end, paving the way for a rapid fielding decision on the launched effects prototype in 2025.

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