New Air-to-Air Armed Drone 'Longshot' Coming

  • Bureau
  • 07:02 AM, March 7, 2023
  • 763
New Air-to-Air Armed Drone 'Longshot' Coming
LongShot UAS concept @GA-ASI

The U.S. Defense Advanced Research Project Agency (DARPA) moved General Atomics’ pitch for the LongShot program to the second phase.

The project aims to build an unmanned aircraft system (UAS) dropped from a bomber or fighter that can launch missiles of its own.

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 unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) efficiently “closes the gap” to take more effective missile shots.

After a successful Preliminary Design Review (PDR) 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 multi-body wind tunnel test, characterizing the LongShot air vehicle and air-to-air weapon separation. Critical Design Review (CDR) 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. Phase 3 would initiate the prototype manufacturing and flight testing phase of the program. Flight testing would begin in 2024.