TALONS At-Sea Demo on USS Zephyr Patrol Coastal Ship

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DARPA’s Towed Airborne Lift of Naval Systems (TALONS) research effort recently demonstrated its prototype of a low-cost, elevated sensor mast aboard a U.S. Navy vessel for the first time. The crew of USS Zephyr, a Cyclone-class patrol coastal ship, tried out the technology demonstration system over three days last March near Naval Station Mayport in Mayport, Florida.

TALONS demonstrated safe and routine operation from the ship’s deck under a variety of sea states and wind conditions without impacting the ship’s operational capability. During operationally relevant test scenarios, it significantly improved the ship’s capabilities to detect, track, and classify contacts of interest. It also increased communications range between the ship and remote platforms such as the Zephyr’s rigid hull inflatable boats (RHIBs).

Towed behind boats or ships, TALONS could persistently carry intelligence, surveillance, reconnaissance (ISR), and communications payloads of up to 150 pounds between 500 and 1,500 feet in altitude—many times higher than current ships’ masts—and greatly extend the equipment’s range and effectiveness.

For more information, visit www.darpa.mil.

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