US military developing radical ‘tail-sitter' drone that lands anywhere

The design is part of Northrop’s proposal for the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency’s(DARPA) Tern...


Web Desk December 19, 2015
PHOTO: MAILONLINE

If you still aren't convinced drones are the future of warfare, think again. The design for a flying-wing tail sitter drone that can land anywhere has been revealed by the Northrop Grumman Corporation in the United States.

The drone, which the company says does not require a runway to land, has the ability to land anywhere on its tail.

PHOTO: US Navy and US federal government/ Mail Online

The design is part of Northrop’s proposal for the Defence Advanced Research Projects Agency’s (DARPA) Tern programme.

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According to FlightGlobal, DARPA plans to ink a contract in January to build and fly a full-scale prototype from a barge or decommissioned navy ship, says Chris Hernandez, senior vice-president of research, technology and advanced design for Northrop.

Northrop’s tail sitter design includes a set of large counter-rotating propellers covering almost two-thirds of a roughly 9.14m (30ft)-diameter wingspan and it carries weapons and sensors as stores underneath the wing, reveals Hernandez.

PHOTO: US Navy and US federal government/ Mail Online

While Northrop is not releasing pictures or drawings of its Tern concept, it displayed a model of the aircraft for journalists on a tour in Los Angeles.

Daniel Patt of DARPA who heads the programme, said, "Effective 21st-century warfare requires the ability to conduct airborne intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR) and strike mobile targets anywhere, around the clock. Current technologies, however, have their limitations."

PHOTO: US Navy and US federal government/ Mail Online

Northrop’s unmanned Tern design harkens back to the manned Lockheed XFV-1 concept of the early 1950s, which also featured a tail-sitter configuration. But Northrop adds to the tail-sitter approach by combining the engine with a pure flying wing design, a hallmark of several of the company’s bomber and surveillance aircraft since the mid-1930s.

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DARPA wants an unmanned vehicle that can operate from DDG-class ships or smaller, with the ability to carry a 272kg (600lb) payload up to 900nm (1,670km) with a further capability to land vertically on a rolling deck in Sea State 5 conditions.

Earlier, Northrop Grumman disclosed an image of a new stealth 'superjet' capable of firing laser weapons.

This article originally appeared on Mail Online

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