The US Navy has begun soliciting information on technologies that can launch and recover drones from sea-based platforms other than aircraft carriers.
According to a request for information, the common Aircraft Launch and Recovery Equipment (ALRE) must be suitable for Group 3-5 unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs).
These UAVs usually weigh around 1,320 pounds (599 kilograms) and have speeds of over 250 knots (463 kilometers/287 miles per hour). Some examples are the RQ-7B Shadow, MQ-9 Reaper, and MQ-1C Gray Eagle drones.
Furthermore, the service said the system must improve critical asset survivability and bolster the distribution of naval air power.
The potential ARLE will be integrated into destroyers, amphibious transport docks, or a new ship class with flight deck sizes of 50 to 200 feet (15 to 61 meters) long.
The US Navy urged potential respondents to use a holistic, systems-based approach to maximize the capabilities of the new platform.
It emphasized that the tech should be able to launch and recover a large number of UAVs in a short amount of time.
In the white paper to be submitted, interested parties must provide information on how the system and the drone can work holistically in a minimal amount of space.
The US Navy will accept responses until October 26, 2023.
“This [request for information] is issued solely for information and planning purposes. This RFI does not commit the Navy to contract for any supply or service whatsoever. Furthermore, the Navy is not seeking proposals at this time,” the request noted