General Atomics Aeronautical Systems is continuing its support for the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency LongShot program.
LongShot changes the paradigm of air combat operations by demonstrating an unmanned air-launched vehicle capable of employing air-to-air weapons.
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 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.
“GA-ASI is committed to the successful flight demonstration of the LongShot air vehicle,” said GA-ASI Senior Director of Advanced Programs Michael Atwood. 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.