First image of proposed armed combat drone that could take on enemy planes revealed

General Atomics Aeronautical Systems (GA-ASI), a company that supplies drones and radar solutions to the U.S. military, has released the first conceptual image of a missile-carrying air-to-air combat drone capable of dropping bombs in a war zone, engage in aerial threats or escort piloted planes on the battlefield.

Part of the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency’s (DARPA) LongShot program, the system includes a manned craft that transports the unmanned aerial vehicle near a war zone, then drops it into the air to roam the rest of the world. path.

GA-ASI notes that when carried by a bomber, the combat drone can pave the way for the piloted aircraft to perform other missions without being attacked by enemy air vehicles.

The new concept image shows a manned aircraft in the distance and a close look at the stealth combat drone with a cockpit similar to a B-52 stealth bomber – but without the windows and a fraction of the size.

There is a prominent V-shaped tail and a weapon bay on the side of the rear fuselage with two doors, reports The Drive.

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General Atomics Aeronautical Systems (GA-ASI), a company that supplies drones and radar solutions to the U.S. military, has released the first conceptual image of a missile-carrying air-to-air combat drone capable of dropping bombs in a war zone, engage in aerial threats or escort piloted planes on the battlefield.

DARPA first announced its Longshot program in February 2021, when it also awarded contracts to General Atomics, Lockheed Martin, and Northrop Grumman for preliminary design work for Phase I.

The objective is to develop a new drone capable of considerably extending the engagement ranges, increasing the efficiency of the mission and reducing the risks for manned aircraft.

Air Force Lt. Col. Paul Calhoun, responsible for the LongShot program, said in a statement: “The LongShot program is changing the paradigm of air combat operations by demonstrating an unmanned aerial vehicle capable of using air weapons. current and advanced air.

“LongShot will disrupt traditional incremental weapon upgrades by providing an alternate means of generating combat capabilities. “

The new concept image shows a manned aircraft in the distance and a close look at the stealth combat drone with a cockpit similar to a B-52 stealth bomber (pictured) - but without the windows and also the size fraction.

The new concept image shows a manned aircraft in the distance and a close look at the stealth combat drone with a cockpit similar to a B-52 stealth bomber (pictured) – but without the windows and also the size fraction.

Part of the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) LongShot program.  Pictured is DARPA's conceptual image of what it is looking for in the program

Part of the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) LongShot program. Pictured is DARPA’s conceptual image of what it is looking for in the program

In subsequent phases of the program, LongShot will build and pilot a large-scale airborne demonstration system capable of controlled flight, before, during and after ejection of the weapon under operational conditions.

And GA-ASI is working towards the completion of phase I of the program.

“Imagine if a friendly bomber was en route on a combat mission and Allied combat networks detected the approach of hostile fighters,” GA-ASI said in a statement.

“LongShot would let the bomber crew attack the threat without the need for their own escorts or the reassignment of friendly fighters, preserving their ability to serve their targets as intended.”

“LongShot gives commanders options, as all remote control systems always have.

“It could launch a fighter sweep before a strike wave without endangering a human crew, or it could join an attack alongside the vanguard with human-crewed warplanes.”

GA-ASI also mentions an alternate method, where the LongShot could be launched from another unmanned aerial vehicle and then controlled remotely.

Northrop Grumman Corporation released a render of its Longshot design on February 10

Northrop Grumman Corporation released a render of its Longshot design on February 10

Northrop Grumman Corporation released a render of its Longshot design on February 10.

Jaime Engdahl, Program Director, Kinetic Weapons and Emerging Capabilities, Northrop Grumman, said in a statement: “Our collaboration with DARPA is the critical first step in developing innovative operational concepts and solutions that will enhance the combat capability of our fighter against rapid growth threatens.

“The LongShot program allows us to combine our digital engineering skills with our in-depth knowledge of advanced technology weapons, autonomous systems and strike platforms to increase weapon range and effectiveness.”