Google News,CanadaThe Air Force’s “Aero-Inspired Mini-Drones” are expected to be a part of its new Aircrew Development Program (ADP) that will launch in 2019, Air Force officials announced Wednesday.
The program, which is part of the Air Force Innovation initiative, will help commercialize a new generation of microdrone designs.
Air Force officials have previously said they want to eventually have a fleet of “flying-chute-style” drones that can travel over land and water.
The current, unmanned versions of those drones have a maximum range of about 4,000 feet (1,200 meters), but the Air’s current versions have a range of more than 30,000 miles (48,000 kilometers).
Air Force Lt.
Gen. Jeffrey Litt, who heads the Air Combat Command, said the new generation drones will fly at speeds of about 20 miles (32 kilometers) per hour (about 31 kilometers per hour).
The ADP will be an effort to get these small drones to flying-chutes and to give them a high degree of autonomy.
In addition to flying over land, the ADP could be used for reconnaissance or even to carry out combat missions.
One of the drone’s primary features is a variable pitch propellers that rotate at a fixed angle to mimic a propeller.
The ADPs’ flight modes are controllable through a tablet or mobile app.
The flight modes include a hover and cruise mode, while a supersonic flight mode lets the drone fly faster than the speed of sound.
It’s unclear how many of the ADPs will fly, but the Pentagon said there are “several hundred” in development.
Air Combat Command officials said the ADPA will focus on two types of microdrones.
The first is the X-47B, a lightweight, “flyable” drone that uses a parachute for a limited landing.
The X-37B is a larger drone that is capable of carrying more payload and is capable to fly at altitudes of more then 50,000 ft (15,500 meters).
Both the X and the X37B have a similar body shape and are designed to carry more payload than a conventional drone.