This post is also available in: heעברית (Hebrew)

Aviation giant Airbus has released images and information about its previously undisclosed Low Observable UAV Testbed (LOUT) program. The program is designed to achieve a better understanding of cutting-edge stealthy design, material and manufacturing sciences, and other associated technologies. The development could be the harbinger of the eventual production of a stealthy operational airframe. 

The pictures Airbus provided are of a four-ton model with a wingspan of just over 39 feet that Airbus used for aerodynamic and anechoic chamber testing, according to flightglobal.com, which adds that Airbus revealed that the LOUT’s twin intakes are blended into the upper fuselage and feed air to the engines via “diverterless inlets,” a technology that Lockheed Martin pioneered in the 1990s. 

Airbus’ program dates back well over a decade, but is just breaking cover now and it stands to portray the European planemaker in a different light when it comes to its ability to produce next-generation combat aircraft. The program was based on Skunk Works concept incorporating holistic signature reduction techniques across RF, IR, visual, and acoustic domains. It also worked to better understand how to integrate advanced electronic warfare and countermeasures into a stealthy design to increase its survivability, according to thedrive.com. 

The initiative also included advanced mission control and sensor fusion software that compared the aircraft’s signature against threat capabilities in its environment, and also the integration of advanced sensors beneath its stealthy skin. 

All areas of stealth technology were incorporated into the design. Stealthy low-probability of intercept (LPI) communications and sensors and even cybersecurity were also parts of the program.