Defense Giants Collaborating in Unmanned Project

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New technology will provide older aircraft such as legacy bombers “new life.”

General Atomics has unveiled a design for its “LongShot” missile-carrying air-to-air combat drone that can be launched from a manned aircraft while in mid-air.

Releasing an armed drone against a target while airborne, the aircraft can fly at a safer distance out of the range of enemy weapons.

The unmanned aerial vehicle is developed for the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) in collaboration with Lockheed Martin and Northrop Grumman. 

DARPA’s LongShot is a program to extend the range of human-powered aircraft by including an armed UAV as part of the weapons platform. This will allow manned aircraft to operate at a safer distance when engaging threats, beyond the range of enemy weapons, according to

“LongShot gives commanders options, just as all remotely operated systems always have,” General Atomics said. “

“Imagine if a friendly bomber were en route during a combat mission and allied battle networks detected the approach of hostile fighters,” General Atomics said. “LongShot would let the bomber crew go on offense against the threat without the need for its own escorts or the retasking of friendly fighters, preserving its ability to service its targets as planned.”