Northrop Grumman has revealed its concept for the US Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) LongShot programme to develop an unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) capable of employing multiple air-to-air weapons.
Northrop Grumman’s concept for an unmanned aerial vehicle capable of employing multiple air-to-air weapons. (Northrop Grumman)
The company released a conceptual rendering of its proposed design on 10 February, two days after it was awarded a contract alongside General Atomics Aeronautical Systems Inc (GA-ASI) and Lockheed Martin for the first phase of its LongShot programme.
“The LongShot programme enables us to combine our digital engineering skillset with our extensive knowledge in advanced technology weapons, autonomous systems, and strike platforms to increase weapon range and effectiveness,” Jaime Engdahl, programme director, kinetic weapons and emerging capabilities at Northrop Grumman was quoted as saying.
As revealed by DARPA on 8 February, the objective of LongShot is to develop a novel UAV that can significantly extend engagement ranges, increase mission effectiveness, and reduce the risk to manned aircraft. “Current air superiority concepts rely on advanced manned fighter aircraft to provide a penetrating counter air capability to effectively deliver weapons. It is envisioned that LongShot will increase the survivability of manned platforms by allowing them to be at standoff ranges far away from enemy threats, while an air-launched LongShot UAV efficiently closes the gap to take more effective missile shots,” the agency said.
As noted by Northrop Grumman, DARPA’s advanced aerospace systems activities are focused on utilising high pay-off opportunities to provide revolutionary new system capabilities, as opposed to incremental or evolutionary advancements, in order to achieve undeterrable air presence at dramatically reduced costs.