Category Firefly

MIT Developing Mach 0.8 Rocket Drone for the Air Force

MIT’s AeroAstro labs is working to develop a drone that can fly at speeds up to Mach 0.8, or roughly 614 mph. Dubbed the Firefly, the drone is essentially a mini-rocket and has a similar shape to a zeppelin. It is designed to launch from a fighter jet and collect data or distract enemy weapons systems.

The Firefly is designed to meet a challenge presented by the U.S. Air Force: develop a UAV no more than 2.5 inches wide and 17 inches long that could be air-launched from a fighter jet and fly at Mach 0.8 for 2 to 5 minutes. After MIT’s recent success building the Peredix swarming drones that also launch from a fighter, the team feels confident they are up to the new challenge.

“There was no vehicle with this speed, at this size, that could deploy off an aircraft,” John Hansman, MIT profes...

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