Directory of U.S. Military Rockets and Missiles
Appendix 4: Undesignated Vehicles
Copyright © 2024 Andreas Parsch

Dynetics X-61 Gremlins

In 2015, DARPA started the Gremlins program. The goal was to develop technologies to enable aircraft to launch multitudes of low-cost recoverable UAVs and retrieve them after their mission in mid-air. Four prime contractors were selected to provide proposals for a demonstrator vehicle in 2016. In 2018, Dynetics Inc. was announced as the winner of the selection process, and received a contract for five X-61A Gremlins UAVs. The construction of the airframes was subcontracted to Kratos.

Photo: DARPA

The X-61A is carried aloft by a C-130 Hercules and released at altitude. It is powered by a single turbofan, and can fly autonomously or under remote control. At the end of a mission, it is to be retrieved in mid-air by the launching C-130. Alternatively, or if the retrieval fails, the Gremlins is equipped with a parachute system for a safe landing. The vehicle is of modular design, so that all sorts of sensor packages, electronic warfare systems and miniature smart weapons can be integrated and evaluated with the X-61A. Total payload capacity is 66 kg (145 lb).

Photo: DARPA

The first free flight of the first X-61A occurred on 17 January 2020. It was basically successful, but the main parachute failed and the aircraft was lost. On the second flight in August that year, the X-61A was successfully recovered by parachute. Another milestone was reached in October 2021, when an X-61A was retrieved in mid-air for the first time, after several unsuccessful attempts on earlier flights.


Data for X-61A:

Length4.2 m (13.8 ft)
Wingspan3.47 m (11.4 ft)
Width57 cm (22 in)
Weight680 kg (1500 lb)
SpeedMach 0.6
Range560 km (350 miles)
Propulsion1 Williams F107 turbofan; 3.1 kN (700 lb)

Main Sources

[1] Wikipedia: Dynetics X-61 Gremlins
[2] DARPA Website
[3] Airforce Technology: X-61A Gremlins Air Vehicle

Back to Directory of U.S. Military Rockets and Missiles, Appendix 4

Last Updated: 24 January 2024