US Army Trials Launching Drones From Ultra-Light Vehicles

It looks like the Army's expanding its drone launches from mid-flight operations to ground-based ones.
Fabienne Lang
An Altius-600 drone launching from the DAGOR ground vehicleFuture Vertical Lift Cross-Functional Team/Twitter

It looks like the U.S. Army is trialing drone launches from ground-based vehicles. More precisely, it looks like the Army's launching ALTIUS-600 drones from what looks like a DAGOR ultra-light tactical vehicle. 

A photo of the feat was posted on Twitter on May 13 via the Future Vertical Lift Cross-Functional Team's account, in which it states "#EDGE21 the ultimate soldier touch point." 

Edge 21 stands for the Experimental Demonstration Gateway Exercise, which Defense News explains is a complex aviation exercise led by the Army.

As for yesterday's, May 13, launch, it appears it might be one of the first ground-based launches for ALTIUS-600 drones, which have already undergone mid-flight launches. For instance, last year some were launched from Black Hawk helicopters, and this year, some were launched mid-air from a Valkyrie drone as part of an exercise to test the use of affordable, high-performance drones. 

Now, it looks like the Army is testing out the ALTIUS-600 drone's ground-based launching capabilities from a moving vehicle. The Drive pointed out that the vehicle in question resembles a DAGOR ultra-light tactical vehicle, produced by Polaris Government & Defense.

The DAGOR is capable of transporting up to nine people, has a payload capacity of up to 4,000 pounds (1,814 kg), and a 500 mile (804.5 km) range. Given its versatility and the fact that it's open on all sides, it might make for an ideal launch "site" for drones such as AREA I's ALTIUS-600

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The drone in question is an affordable UAV that can be launched from the air, the ground, or the sea from various launch systems, as AREA I states. It's handy for multi-purpose missions with a wide array of payload options, making it the ideal candidate for a number of different missions, from surveillance to attacks. 

This new ground-based launch exercise, which has yet to be confirmed by the Army, may pave the way for wider uses of the drone.