Analysis of alternative recovery systems for the RQ-21A blackjack
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The RQ-21A unmanned aerial system must be able to launch and recover independent from any runway or leveled surface. The current RQ-21A STUAS recovery system (SRS) has been deemed deficient by Program Management Authority 263, because it is incapable of recovering the air vehicle at its maximum weight and commonly causes damage to the air vehicle, payloads, and/or the SRS. This project conducted an analysis of alternatives to compare the SRS, VTOL, SideArm, FLARES, and Net Capture recovery systems based on performance, cost, and risks. The VTOL and SideArm are recommended as potential replacements because they outperform the RQ-21A SRS and other alternatives in performance, cost, and risk. Replacing the current SRS with VTOL or SideArm would reduce the amount and frequency of damage to the air vehicle, increase performance, and reduce life-cycle costs. SideArm and VTOL have performance values of 0.809 and 0.766, respectively. FLARES, Net Capture, and the SRS have substantially lower performance values of 0.453, 0.448, and 0.005. The total life cycle costs of the VTOL and SideArm are substantially lower, $758 and $759 million, compared to the other systems, which range from $913 to $1,034 million.
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