General Atomics Aeronautical Systems, Inc. (GA-ASI) is poised to begin the flight-testing phase on the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency’s (DARPA) LongShot program. Begun in 2020, General Atomics was competitively awarded a contract to develop DARPA’s concept for disruptive air combat operations through demonstration of an air-to-air weapons capable air vehicle. The concept seeks to significantly increase engagement range and mission effectiveness of current 4th gen fighters and air-to-air missiles. The testing will validate basic vehicle handling characteristics and lay the foundation for follow-on development and testing. Over the last three years, GA-ASI has iterated on numerous vehicle designs to optimize performance and will complete the design enroute to flight testing in 2024.
“We are extremely excited to get in the air!Flight testing will validate digital designs that have been refined throughout the course of the project. General Atomics is dedicated to leveraging this process to rapidly deliver innovative unmanned capabilities for national defense,” said Mike Atwood, Vice President of Advanced Aircraft Programs at GA-ASI.
DARPA’s LongShot program, which is developing an air-launched unmanned air vehicle (UAV) with the ability to employ multiple air-to-air weapons, has awarded contracts to General Atomics, Lockheed Martin, and Northrop Grumman for preliminary Phase I design work. The objective is to develop a novel UAV that can significantly extend engagement ranges, increase mission effectiveness, and reduce the risk to manned aircraft. 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 UAV efficiently closes the gap to take more effective missile shots.
General Atomics Aeronautical Systems, Inc. (GA-ASI) is a military contractor and subsidiary of General Atomics that designs and manufactures unmanned aerial vehicles and radar systems for the U.S. military and commercial applications worldwide. On March 6, 2023, the company announced that DARPA has chosen GA-ASI to carry out the design of the air-launched drone through Critical Design Review (CDR); a LongShot would itself carry an AMRAAM or Sidewinder missile, which greatly extends their range. In this way, an F-15EX or similar 4th-generation fighter can greatly increase its survivability when armed with a LongShot. General Atomics Aeronautical Systems, Inc. (GA-ASI), an affiliate of General Atomics, is a leading designer and manufacturer of proven, reliable RPA systems, radars, and electro-optic and related mission systems, including the Predator RPA series and the Lynx Multi-mode Radar.