General Atomics Aeronautical Systems, Inc (GA-ASI) has announced it has been selected to continue support for the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) LongShot program.
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DARPA’s LongShot program aims to change the paradigm of air combat operations by demonstrating an unmanned air-launched vehicle capable of employing air-to-air weapons — it is envisioned that LongShot will increase the survivability of manned platforms by allowing them to be at stand-off ranges far away from enemy threats, while an air-launched LongShot unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) efficiently “closes the gap” to take more effective missile shots.
Current air superiority concepts rely on advanced manned fighter aircraft, like the F-22 Raptor or F-35 Lightning II to provide a penetrating counter air capability to effectively deliver weapons.
GA-ASI senior director of advanced programs Michael Atwood said, “GA-ASI is committed to the successful flight demonstration of the LongShot air vehicle.”
After a successful Preliminary Design Review in February 2022 at the end of Phase 1, GA-ASI was selected by DARPA to continue into Phase 2 in March 2022 — during Phase 2, detailed designs are being completed and ground tests conducted to decrease program risk.
A key test event completed early in Phase 2 was the multi-body wind tunnel test, characterising the LongShot air vehicle and air-to-air weapon separation.
The Critical Design Review for the program is planned for early 2023, which will complete the Phase 2 portion of the program. GA-ASI is currently generating a proposal response for the third phase of the program.
Upcoming Phase 2 ground tests will demonstrate the viability of key subsystems. Meanwhile, Phase 3 would initiate the prototype manufacturing and flight testing phase of the program.
Flight testing is expected to begin in 2024.
GA-ASI, an affiliate of General Atomics, is a leading designer and manufacturer of proven, reliable remotely piloted aircraft (RPA) systems, radars, and electro-optic and related mission systems, including the Predator RPA series and the Lynx Multi-mode Radar.