The prototype airplane fighter Northrop Grumman is developing at the moment is supposed to be able to land anywhere, and on its tail like models that were tested back in the early 1950s. This model would be a radical fighter plane that is capable of being launched from aboard a small Navy boat and able to launch massive drone attacks like a powerful Predator.
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Northrop Grumman would not say much at the moment but reveals it would be a tailsitter drone that would not require a runway to land since it would be able to land just about anywhere at any time - Mail Online reports.
The company is developing the prototype to fulfill the proposal asked for by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency’s Tern programme, and DARPA is expected by January to award the contract to a winner who will go ahead and develop the aircraft.
Northrop Grumman would not reveal any designs or drawings of the project to the public, but the company took reporters on a tour of its facility in Los Angeles on December 11 where journalists saw a model of the aircraft put on display.
Chris Hernandez, senior vice-president of research, technology and advanced design at Northrop explained that its current design has a number of counter-rotating propellers covering two-thirds of the aircraft’s 30-feet diameter wingspan. And the machine will be able to carry heavy weapons and sensors under its wing.
“Effective 21st-century warfare requires the ability to conduct airborne intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance and strike mobile targets anywhere, around the clock,” said Dr. Daniel Patt at DARPA.
“Current technologies, however, have their limitations,” he went on. “Helicopters are relatively limited in their distance and flight time. Fixed-wing manned and unmanned aircraft can fly farther and longer but require either aircraft carriers or large, fixed land bases with runways often longer than a mile.”
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The aircraft expert added that the vision of Tern is to small ships as a mobile launch as well as recovery sites for the unmanned aircraft (UAVs) as well as medium-altitude long-endurance (MALE) aircraft.