The developers intend to present a working prototype to the US Department of Defense specialists in 2024.
In the US, General Atomics is developing a new generation of missile-armed military drones to be launched from combat aircraft. The Breaking Defense website writes about this.
General Atomics told the media that it had submitted its findings to the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) as part of the second phase of the LongShot program to create a new unmanned aerial system. The US military wants UAVs that can be dropped from manned fighters or bombers. Drones must engage flying targets with their own air-to-air missiles to keep aircraft from engaging in direct combat.
General Atomics has been selected along with Northrop Grumman and Lockheed Martin to provide preliminary designs for the first phase of LongShot in February 2021, but it is not yet clear how far the other two companies have progressed. According to General Atomics spokesman Mark Brinley, in early 2023, DARPA should study the projects and complete the second phase, and the company itself is already working on proposals for the third phase of LongShot.
Earlier, Breaking Defense found out that DARPA is going to select one manufacturer for the third phase of the program, which involves the creation of a working prototype. The agency wants to conduct flight tests of the new UAV in fiscal year 2024, so construction should begin as early as 2023.
“General Atomics is committed to a successful flight demonstration of the LongShot aircraft,” says Mark Brinkley.
The Air Force has been particularly interested in connecting drones to aircraft since the launch of its Skyborg program in 2019, and the service also intends to apply the concept to its secret Next Generation Air Dominance fighter aircraft, using drones known as collaborative combat aircraft (CCAs). CCAs are planned to carry additional missiles, provide more situational awareness through sensors, or even take enemy strikes instead of manned aircraft.
In December, they wrote about the Chinese Tengoen TB-001 UAV armed with air-to-ground missiles. It has been in service with the People’s Liberation Army of China since 2021 and is designed to destroy ground targets such as cars and armored vehicles.
It was also reported that Kratos is building BQM-177A drones that mimic cruise missiles. They will train the US Navy for more effective defense against enemies.
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