This is why DARPA has come up with an idea of taking smaller ships and creating drones that will be able to take flight from said vessels. This project is called TERN, which stands for “Tactically Exploited Reconnaissance Node” and you can see the concept in the image above which shows the drone in action.
The drone, while looking like a small plane, will actually take off and land like a helicopter, but will fly like a plane. The drone is also expected to be equipped with two counter-rotating propellers on the nose that helps provide lift and thrust. The project is also said to have entered phase three, meaning that a prototype will now be built.
To test out their idea, DARPA said that they will be building a full-scale demonstrator on dry land first, before transitioning to an at-sea version. According to DARPA’s program manager Dan Patt, “Moving to an unmanned platform, refocusing the mission and incorporating modern precision relative navigation and other technologies removes many of the challenges the XFY-1 and other prior efforts faced in developing aircraft based from small ships. Tern is a great example of how new technologies and innovative thinking can bring long-sought capabilities within reach.”