DARPA’s aerial turducken, the LongShot, still in preparation for stage 2022 – Breaking Defense Breaking Defense


LongShot drone illustration. (DARPA)

WASHINGTON: As families gather around their tables on Thanksgiving, a few of these tables will host a veritable culinary monstrosity: turducken.

For the lucky uninitiated, a turducken is a chicken stuffed inside a duck stuffed inside a turkey. It’s also known as the Three Birds Roast, and yes people do eat it. And during a week of slow news, the concept of the turducken reminded Breaking Defense to check out the much deadlier U.S. military concept, the LongShot concept currently under development by contractors working for Mad Scientists. of the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA).

The LongShot effort was “initiated” in February and was described at the time by DARPA as an “unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) capable of using multiple air-to-air weapons.” In other words, an aircraft launches the LongShot mothership, which in turn launches its own air-to-air missiles. The mothership could be sized to be carried by fighter jets and bombers.

So yes, in the spirit of the holidays: if a ground missile is a chicken, the Longshot is a turducken.

“The objective is to develop a new drone capable of considerably extending the ranges of engagement, increasing the efficiency of the mission and reducing the risks for manned aircraft,” said the DARPA announcement in February. . “It is expected that LongShot will increase the survivability of manned platforms by allowing them to be at safe distances away from enemy threats, while an air-launched LongShot drone effectively bridges the gap to perform fire. more efficient missiles. “

But, like the turducken, these kinds of complicated designs take time, and DARPA is still years away from the first flight of the LongShot prototype.

“The designs continue to mature into a Phase I preliminary design review and the work to date supports the feasibility of the LongShot concept,” Lt. Col. Paul Calhoun, DARPA LongShot program director, told Breaking Defense this week.

DARPA spokesman Randolph Atkins added that the agency initially considered flight tests not starting until fiscal 2024, and that “remains true”. The next step, the preliminary design reviews, is expected to take place by the end of summer 2022.

Defense giants General Atomics, Lockheed Martin and Northrop Grumman were all selected in February to provide preliminary designs, and the Navy and Air Force could be potential clients. These entrepreneurs are still engaged, DARPA said.

DARPA’s budget documents show the agency planned to spend $ 24 million on the project in 2021 and an additional $ 36 million next year. The unclassified documents, released in May, indicated that in FY2022, DARPA hopes to undertake wind tunnel and missile separation tests before completing a critical design review.

Speaking of which, Breaking Defense would encourage all Turducken Chiefs to engage in their own critical design review before serving such a thing. Is it feasible? Is it worth the cost (in calories)? More importantly, will the customer be satisfied? If the answer is yes, move on to the stuffing. Happy Thanksgiving.


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