A Missile-Firing Missile

This air-launched combat drone has its own arsenal of air-to-air missiles.

If we were to have a Mount Rushmore of news generators, right next to Elon Musk, automotive scandals and industrial accidents would be DARPA.

The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency consistently offers leading-edge product developments that often begin with military applications before transferring the technology to the mainstream.

While that’s the case with a lot of imaging and material technologies, their latest announcement will hopefully remain with the Department of Defense.

DARPA recently awarded $22 million in contracts to General Atomics, Lockheed Martin and Northrop Grumman to develop what is being described as an air-launched combat drone with its own arsenal of air-to-air missiles. 

Basically, the goal of the LongShot program will be to develop a front-line UAV that can take the fight to incoming air strikes. 

Instead of launching missiles from the ground or via fighter jets from a defensive posture in meeting the incoming missile before it hits, LongShot would fly to meet these enemy missiles and then destroy them with their own onboard air-to-air missiles.

The benefits are primarily two-fold. First, LongShot allows for keeping piloted fighter jets in reserve for follow-up attacks, minimizing pilot risk. 

Additionally, the ability of these drones to target incoming air strikes at closer range should improve their effectiveness. And the fact this engagement will take place closer to where the missiles are launched from should also reduce the enemy’s reaction time in configuring a response.

Along with LongShot, DARPA is also developing GunSlinger, which is described by Task & Purpose as an “unmanned flying machine gun capable of loitering above potential targets for counterinsurgency operations, close air support, and air-to-air engagements.”

That one might make it to the private sector.


More