Team prepares to demonstrate prototype unmanned jet fighter

10 August 2023

California-based General Atomics Aeronautical Systems Inc. has been commissioned by U.S. military researchers to build and flight-test a prototype unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) capable of firing several of its own air-to-air weapons.

Researchers from the U.S. Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) announced an $82.6 million contract with General Atomics for the third phase of the LongShot project.

Source: General Atomics Aeronautical Systems Inc.Source: General Atomics Aeronautical Systems Inc.

The LongShot aircraft will be an unmanned jet fighter-bomber with missiles attached to hardpoints underneath the wings, on the fuselage or possibly in internal weapons bays for enhanced stealth. The design is expected to extend aircraft engagement ranges from beyond the reach of enemy weapons to reduce risks to manned aircraft.

The LongShot attack UAV design will be launched from aircraft, like a missile, but with the ability to deploy several of its own air-to-air weapons.

The LongShot will enable piloted aircraft to fire the UAV from standoff ranges far away from enemy threats. The unmanned LongShot, meanwhile, can reportedly fly closer to enemy targets to increase precision, while keeping human pilots out of harm's way.

Further, the LongShot prototype will be a flyable full-scale air-launched demonstration system capable of controlled flight before, during and after firing its weapons.

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