Stiletto Does Carrier Trials!
Not as far fetched as it sounds. The experiment M80 Stiletto craft pictured above in an older photo has been used as a test platform lately for ship-launched unmanned aerial vehicles. Here is the latest update from Def Pro:
AAI Corporation… announced today that its Aerosonde Mark 4.7 small unmanned aircraft system (SUAS) successfully completed a week of flight operations aboard the Office of the Secretary of Defense’s M-80 Stiletto Maritime Demonstration Test Bed. AAI conducted a series of Aerosonde Mark 4.7 SUAS flight tests at sea, concluding with multiple successful launches and recoveries aboard the Stiletto vessel.
The Stiletto shipboard trials established AAI’s unique, integrated launch and recovery system at technology readiness level (TRL) 7 during multiple successful aircraft recoveries in a maritime operational environment. The shipboard Aerosonde Mark 4.7 SUAS includes the integrated launch and recovery system; the Mark 4.7 aircraft with enhanced, leading-edge wings; on-the-move navigation; automatic takeoff and landing capability; and shipboard integration to the command and control center. AAI’s integrated, one-piece launch and recovery system easily fits aboard small ships without necessitating shipboard alterations.
The pictures above and below are from 2006, when trials with a Manta UAV were conducted. Note also the report said the system was for “launch and recovery“. It is plain to see how the UAV is launched but I am unsure how the recovery is done. If any of our Expert Readers has details, it would be much appreciated within the comments.
Consider for a moment the implications when high performance UAVs, even combat drones are launched from tiny stealth craft such as Stiletto (60 tons). The use of such cost saving yet enormously versatile and effective planes (as we see from our land wars) by our military staggers the imagination, but also ominously so if such easily deployable technology is used against us by a enemy power.