Navy to test cargo-carrying drones for ships at sea

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The Navy has launched a test project to determine if drones can be used to carry critical parts to warships while they are underway.

The Naval Air Warfare Center Aircraft Division wants to know if an unmanned aerial vehicle can carry a payload up to 50 pounds. It is sending representatives of its experimentation and prototype division to a U.S. aircraft carrier late this year to test whether cargo drones are practical at sea, according to the U.S. Naval Institute.

Navy officials said 90% of mechanical problems aboard a ship at sea can be repaired with a payload lighter than 20 pounds, well within the capacity of several commercial drone systems, according to USNI.

“Instead of waiting for the next day to send the helicopter, or for the next (underway replenishment), we can get that capability out literally within hours,” Tony Schmidt, an official with the Naval Air Warfare Center Aircraft Division told USNI News.

Navy officials wouldn’t identify which aircraft carrier would host the cargo drones during the test.



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