BELMONT — Milpower Source, Inc., a local manufacturer of power conversion components that holds a number of national defense contracts, is supporting the government’s new Gremlins program, planned for deployment in 2019.
The goal of the Gremlins program is to send unmanned aerial systems to dangerous areas where they can monitor and provide tactical support for war operations while keeping personnel at safe distances from the contested areas.
The drones would be launched from and recovered by conventional aircraft and could be deployed in groups that communicate and collaborate among themselves in tactical missions, with minimal supervision. Because they are autonomous systems that operate together, they allow the military to distribute and use multiple sensors with “substantial operational risk-taking.”
Once their mission is complete, the drones return to the recovery aircraft where they can be taken to the home base, refitted, and returned to the skies.
The program is in the third and final phase of design, with Dynetics receiving a 21-month award worth up to $38.6 million to complete the project. Dynetics turned to Milpower Source for the power conversion components.
“Rapid development of innovative and complex systems like Gremlins drives us to identify and use system components with the highest reputation for reliability and performance,” said Tim Keeter, deputy program manager and chief engineer for Gremlins at Dynetics. “We are proud to have Milpower Source on our Gremlins air vehicle team.”
Joseph Widman, Gremlins programs manager at Milpower Source, said, “We addressed the operational requirements through our advanced engineering design processes to exceed stringent environmental and mechanical requirements, primarily weight, without sacrificing performance. Milpower Source is excited to be part of the team and provide our unique ability to offer tailored power conversion solutions.”
Milpower Source’s largest clients are Raytheon and Northrup Grumman, and the company does rigorous testing of its components to ensure their reliability.
U.S. Sen. Jeanne Shaheen, a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, has noted that the defense authorization bill calls for the government to assess procurement costs in light of the long-term utility of the parts being purchased. The products by Milpower Source are expensive, but they have proven to be reliable, so companies such as Dynetics are confident in using the Belmont firm as a supplier.
Shaheen said, “Developing the next phase of the Gremlins program continues New Hampshire’s long tradition of bolstering the United States’ national defense goals and objectives.”