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Northrop Grumman releases new future UAV concept art

The latest concept art for Model 437, the unmanned version of the Model 401, shows a sleeker design than a previous rendering released in late 2021. (Northrop Grumman)

Northrop Grumman has released new concept art of a future unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV), which shows a sleeker design to that previously shown in late 2021.

The artist's rendering, released to Janes on 5 May, shows an unmanned version of the Model 401 manned experimental prototype developed by Northrop Grumman subsidiary, Scaled Composites.

Although the latest concept art shares the same scale and overall dimensions of the manned Model 401 on which it is based, it differs from an earlier concept drawing of the unmanned Model 437 version released by Northrop Grumman in September 2021. This latest rendering reveals a sleeker and more aerodynamic design of the frontal fuselage and swept back wings, suggesting that speed is to be prioritised as a performance characteristic of the new vehicle.

Having been developed to demonstrate advanced, low-cost manufacturing techniques and provide aircraft for research flight services, the manned Model 401 first flew in October 2017. Powered by a single Pratt & Whitney JTD-15D-5D engine, the Model 401 is capable of flying Mach 0.6, has a service ceiling of 30,000 ft, and an endurance of up to three hours. The aircraft measures 11.6 m in length and has a wingspan measuring the same. It has an empty weight of 1,814.4 kg (4,000 lb) and a maximum take-off weight of 3,628.7 kg (8,000 lb).

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