DARPA (Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency) has selected three companies to develop concept designs for the LongShot program. The companies that have been selected are General Atomics, Lockheed Martin, and Northrop Grumman.
The LongShot program will see DARPA and its chosen company develop an air-launched unmanned air vehicle (UAV) with the ability to employ multiple air-to-air weapons. The objective behind the program is to develop a novel UAV that can significantly extend engagement ranges, increase mission effectiveness, and reduce the risk to manned aircraft.
Contracts have been awarded to @GeneralAtomics, @LockheedMartin, and @northropgrumman for the new LongShot project to develop an air-launched unmanned air vehicle that can employ multiple air-to-air weapons. https://t.co/VuICSbHCz0 pic.twitter.com/dUwlYC7aX0
— DARPA (@DARPA) February 8, 2021
According to DARPA, current superiority concepts rely on advanced manned fighter aircraft, which is a problem because it puts human lives at risk. With the LongShot program, this will no longer be the case.
Making use of an unmanned UAV will increase the survivability of fighter pilots by allowing them to hold back far away from enemy threats, while an air-launched LongShot UAV closes the gap to take ‘more effective missile shots’.
“The LongShot program changes the paradigm of air combat operations by demonstrating an unmanned, air-launched vehicle capable of employing current and advanced air-to-air weapons,” said DARPA program manager Lt. Col. Paul Calhoun.
DARPA did not confirm any financial details for its selection, but the agency did announce that in second phase of the program it will construct and fly a full-scale air-launched demonstration system capable of controlled flight, before, during, and after weapon ejection under operational conditions. An exact date as to when this will take place has not been announced.