Aug. 16 (UPI) -- The U.S. Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency has completed a test demonstration of its Towed Airborne Lift of Naval Systems, or TALONS, surveillance and communications parasail mast.
The Cyclone-class coastal patrol vessel USS Zephyr tested the TALONS over three days off the coast of Naval Station Mayport, Fla. The tests found that the parasail mast deployed and recovered safely and increased the communications range of the Zephyr to its small rigid-hull boats.
"We're very pleased with the USS Zephyr testing, which showed that a future system based on TALONS could provide operational benefits for even small Navy vessels," DARPA program manager Scott Littlefield said.
The TALONS is being developed to lift up to 150 lbs. of intelligence, surveillance, reconnaissance and communications gear to altitudes of up to 1,500 feet. This is many times higher than any other ship mast and would greatly increase the range of sensors like infrared cameras along with communications.
"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," Littlefield said.
The TALONS is part of Tern, a joint program between DARPA and the U.S. Navy's Office of Naval Research. Tern's mission is the development of unmanned aerial vehicles for small ships like the Cyclone-class and other patrol vessels.