DARPA Tests Elevated Sensor Mast Aboard Navy Patrol Ship

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The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency has tested a prototype of an elevated sensor mast aboard the U.S. Navy‘s USS Zephyr patrol coastal ship in an effort to boost the vessel’s communication range and capacity to detect, track and classify objects of interest.

DARPA said Tuesday the USS Zephyr crew facilitated a three-day effort near Naval Station Mayport, Florida to evaluate a prototype of the Towed Airborne Lift of Naval Systems.

The TALONS parafoil system is designed to lift communications payloads and intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance instruments as heavy as 150 pounds at up to 1,500 feet above sea level to optimize the equipment’s range and effectiveness.

“In the next year, we will continue our cooperative relationship with the U.S. Navy and work toward fully automating launch and recovery, which would make the system even easier to use on manned vessels and compatible with unmanned surface vessels,” said Scott Littlefield, a program manager at DARPA’s Tactical Technology Office.

The demonstration aboard USS Zephyr follows a joint test in 2016 between TALONS and a prototype vessel from DARPA’s Anti-Submarine Warfare Continuous Trail Unmanned Vessel program.

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