Apr, 2021 - By WMR
DARPA reveals the plan of creating an autonomous drone that can take-off from the air. The aim of the program is to improve the engagement range and effectiveness of air-to-air missiles.
General Atomics, Lockheed Martin, and Northrop Grumman have been awarded contracts for preliminary Phase I design work on DARPA's (Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency) LongShot program, which is designing an air-launched unmanned air vehicle (UAV) capable of employing multiple air-to-air missiles. The aim is to create an innovative unmanned air vehicle (UAV), which could dramatically expand communication ranges and improve mission effectiveness. DARPA has started production of a new missile-equipped drone to expand the fighting range of its aircraft while keeping human operators out of harm's way. The unmanned vehicle, known as LongShot, is designed to be launched from the mid-air with the help of carrier vehicle, and the company has enlisted the support of three defense companies to get the project going.
The LongShot program aims to “steadily increase engagement ranges, improve mission effectiveness, and lower the impact to manned aircraft,” according to the organization. The drone would be able to use several air-to-air missiles, enabling manned aircraft to fly further away from the enemy. For the preliminary design work on the LongShot program, DARPA has awarded contracts to General Atomics, Lockheed Martin, and Northrop Grumman. The aim of the program is to build and flight-test a full-scale device, including demonstrating its ability to fire weapons within operating environment.
Program manager of LongShot, Lt. Col. Paul Calhoun said, "The LongShot programme shifts the concept of air combat operations by demonstrating an autonomous, air-launched aircraft capable of using current and advanced air-to-air weapons." “By offering an alternate means of producing fighting capabilities, LongShot can disrupt conventional incremental weapon improvements.”