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

Published: December 19, 2015


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.

US drone strike kills six Islamic State militants near Pak-Afghan border

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.

Apple removes drone strike news app, deems it ‘not useful or entertaining enough’

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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Reader Comments (40)

  • Parvez
    Dec 19, 2015 - 3:17PM

    Pakistani airbases will be much less useful to the Americans if they succeed in this. We won’t be able to extract rent from them anymore. Our dollar inflows will suffer.Recommend

  • U-turn needed
    Dec 19, 2015 - 4:01PM

    If war on terror could have been won by military supremacy, it would have been won by now. War will not be won by this strategy. West needs to change course and analyze the reasons of defeat than to expend energies in the same direction which has only brought disgrace and shame, nothing else.Recommend

  • Zahid Jamil
    Dec 19, 2015 - 6:53PM

    @ U-turn needed. Maybe Pakistanis should consider giving this advice to our own government first considering the U turn our foriegn policy has taken these days to join with the disbelievers and oppressors. Not the alliances Jinnah or the founding fathers would have been proud of. Recommend

  • Stranger
    Dec 19, 2015 - 7:11PM

    Please try to spend half that money on rehab / edu / med in these very mentioned parts of the planet. The gods will descend down the earth to worship you. Clearly something is going wrong with your strategy of this so called war on terror . Recommend

  • Dec 19, 2015 - 7:44PM

    Do you work in the Obama WH?Recommend

  • Brad
    Dec 19, 2015 - 8:01PM

    Is there a company in US history that has been given more taxpayer dollars than Northrup Grumman?Recommend

  • Dave
    Dec 19, 2015 - 8:25PM

    Why don’t they just use a 1/5 scale R/C helicopter?Recommend

  • nathan hale
    Dec 19, 2015 - 8:29PM

    This is the way warfare is going. “less personal” which makes war less terrible, which in turn doesn’t make it such a bad thing and more likely an option for lawyer politicians.

    War should be absolutely terrible. There shouldn’t be images on the TV of soldiers on patrol giving candy to street kids. when soldiers are on patrol villagers should be hiding. kids no where to be seen. citizens of other countries shouldn’t want us soldiers anywhere near them. that way when their leadership threatens the US, and we start loading planes with soldiers, the citizens of that other country impress upon their leadership that they should release those hostages, stop sending chemical weapons to wherever, to stop using terrorist organizations to attacking the US for them. Oh those ISIS terrorist using our country as a base, we will kill/capture them and gift wrap them for the US. Don’t level our cities.

    If war was so terrible, then everyone would work very hard to avoid it at all costs.Recommend

  • Hyon Chul
    Dec 19, 2015 - 8:40PM

    @U-turn needed: I disagree. The reason we lose our wars is due to the American hating liberal progressive Democrats.Recommend

  • schm0e
    Dec 19, 2015 - 9:27PM

    Pictures from the 1950s.Recommend

  • schm0e
    Dec 19, 2015 - 9:28PM

    @Stranger: do you wonder why your culture cannot escape the dark ages?Recommend

  • Dec 19, 2015 - 9:32PM

    War is a racket, we already know that.
    USA hasn’t had a legally declared war by Congress since WW2, so what we actually have is over 60 years of war criminals in military and US govt.
    Americans should stop paying taxes for all the illegal behaviours of their govt and military by following and obeying tax law, because Govt, meaning our Politicians are lying about taxes. U.S. tax law is codified, and easy as 1,2.

    -Exempt Income-
    26 CFR 1.861-8T(d)(2)(ii)
    “exempt income means any income that is … exempt, excluded, or eliminated for federal income tax purposes.”

    -Income Not Exempt- [aka, The list of Taxable Income]
    26 CFR 1.861-8T(d)(2)(iii)
    “Income that is not considered tax exempt. The following items are not considered to be exempt, eliminated, or excluded income

    (A) In the case of a foreign taxpayer … gross income (whether domestic or foreign source)
    (B) gross income of a DISC or a FSC; [means Domestic International Sales Corp, Foreign Sales]
    (C) gross income of a possessions corporation
    (D) Foreign earned income as defined in section 911”

    Do you make Foreign earned income? No? Then according to code (law), you don’t owe any income tax. As usual, politicians are stealing money from citizens under color of law.

    SOURCE: ecfr DOT gov
    HOW TO: Click Simple Search, find “exempt income means”

    Computer scientist data-mines tax code, Whatistaxed DOT comRecommend

  • John B
    Dec 19, 2015 - 9:42PM

    While your point is understood, you are coming in two generations behind. Post WW II, the US was going around the world building infrastructure projects, naturally based on its capitalistic principal using tax payer money and in the U.S. interests. Now the same goes on but with private capital and not with tax payers money. I prefer the private capital system rather than US tax payer system which has its limit. But it should be mentioned the US interests were /are never at the expense of local people’s interests. In some places, the U.S. made mess with bad global politics, but hindsight is not a good option. Today we are all talking about Middle East, but the US lead (as well as Russian intervention) will turn out to be a good thing 50 yrs from now.

    The U.S. built in aid and in loan and tech transfer the Afghanistan, and also Pakistan, provided scholarships for many students and so on. The city of Kabul and the Kabul river and irrigation canals in Kabul and Pakistan were all built by the U.S. Even today the pak roads and the infrastructure were all built by the U.S. money in some form or the other.

    The US was instrumental in dismantling the British Empire that was suffocating half the world.
    It was not the US which destroyed the early post WW II world. Until 1970s the world devasted from wars and colonialism was steadily making progress and 1970s was sense of optimism for the youth world over , despite the Cold War. Today’s problem started much early on. The war against Israel , Iranian theocracy revolution and Taliban changed the world. Capitalism Vs Communism did little damage to the common men but both emancipated them. Whereas the Israel / Palestinian conflicts and the favors of it in Iranian revolution, and so on around the world did more damage than good.

    The wolrd we live in today was shaped by the US -USSR post WWII accommodating the colonial capitalists in both camps and in between.

    In the end, one is compelled to ask in 2015 who did good to the world post WWII. the US, USSR, or European colonial nations camps or those who charted their own course.

    Whether one likes it or not, the world we live in today post WWII pivots around the US. It was an incidental opportunity of WW 2 fell on the US lap. Unlike the British ( european) empire, today’s world is free and both the U.S. and USSR played their part. Final grade? the U.S. B+, USSR -B Recommend

  • sean
    Dec 19, 2015 - 10:10PM

    The only reason the war on terror hasn’t worked is that the military has been given rules of engagement that cripple them. The only thing that Islamic Arabic culture understands or respects is brute force and overwhelming power, it’s been that way for more than 1000 years and it’s not likely to change any time soon. as long as Arab Islamists behave like they’re living in mediaeval times they will be treated like they’re living in mediaeval times.

    The world does not have the time to coddle these prehistoric cave menRecommend

  • curious2
    Dec 19, 2015 - 10:22PM

    @Parvez: American’s don’t use Pakistani air bases – haven’t for some time.
    @Stranger: American’s provide Billions in Charity to Pakistan and other countries – drones and Charity are not mutually exclusive.Recommend

  • Bzullgoose
    Dec 19, 2015 - 10:29PM

    Yes, the strategy is flawed. There should be no cessation of pursuit and destruction of targeted combatants, as there has been. Very much like the pursuit of cancer cells. Leave none alive to metastasize.Recommend

  • Laurie66Bay
    Dec 19, 2015 - 10:34PM

    @U-turn needed:
    Nope. The war will be won when terrorists are dead. Right now we have weak leaders like Obama who are afraid to engage (and afraid to disengage). Soon we will have strong leaders who will not be afraid to take the fight anywhere that the terrorists are, and will kill them all without mercy. There is only one way to win a war, and that is to kill the enemy and keep killing them until there are none left. Extremists need to be treated the same way we treated the NAZI’s, and decent Muslims should be joining us in this war against barbarism, rather than trying to appease barbarism.Recommend

  • imahippyburning
    Dec 19, 2015 - 11:02PM

    @U-turn needed: The only reason War has not won is because our Politically Correct Politicians and their sycophant asinine Leftist Followers do NOT allow the Military to actually fight conflicts like they are at WAR! Instead they make them fight with all sorts of ridiculous restrictions. If we allowed our military to truly be let loose on those who wish to fight this nonsense would be over in short order, but instead they put the lives and the blood of many innocent people in their hands with their constant second guessing, poll taking and fighting like it were a Police Mission instead of a Military one!

    I do not wish to see innocent lives lost or ruined, but to allow this to continue the way Barak The HUSSEIN has been doing is to allow far greater death and destruction then it would be to go after these vermin with a scorched Earth policy! Recommend

  • U-turn needed
    Dec 19, 2015 - 11:15PM

    As if Bush, Blair, Obama and Co. aren’t doing this since the last 15 years. Try it again nobody’s stopping you. Get the boots on ground and let the play begin. Please don’t leave the game until its finished. In our part of the world the party who runs away is the loser. You can’t say ‘we win we win’ and run away. It didn’t play that way last time and it’s not gonna play out this time too. Sorry mate!Recommend

  • Patrick Delohery
    Dec 20, 2015 - 12:52AM

    @Hyon Chul:
    Absolutely correct, and we’ll said HyonRecommend

  • Michael G. Wilson
    Dec 20, 2015 - 1:01AM

    @Dave: Might have to do with both the payload and the top speed? Helicopters have their limitations, and helicopters are a little less stable then “conventionally winged” craft.Recommend

  • Chippy
    Dec 20, 2015 - 2:28AM

    @History Repeats, Again:

    Obama was given the Peace Prize (lol) for doing nothing, then set out to start 5 more wars, that’s what it’s called when you bomb another country innit? He bombed Somalia, Yemen, Libya, Pakistan along with Afghanistan. He’s also guilty of treason, we just learned that he’s given terrorists a 45 minute warning of impending air strikes, and we also learned that 75% of the time the Air Force is returning home with bombs they were prohibited from dropping, not that it really matters because we’ve also seen alleged air strikes on the news that were simply missiles – costing he taxpayer about $1 million each – that hit unmanned Jeeps which had no military value.
    Obama has also fired over 150 senior Military Personnel including 11 Generals and has committed 140 unconstitutional acts. Why isn’t the Military removing him from office as required by the Constitution? As for Congress not acting the answer is simple: Obama uses racism as his shield and as his weapon, and political correctness will get you killed, just look at the people in San Bernardino. The neighbor thought something was fishy when packages were being delivered at odd hours but didn’t want to alert authorities.Recommend

  • Sparrow
    Dec 20, 2015 - 3:49AM

    The concept is known as “helicopter”. The vintage 50’s images are adorable!Recommend

  • Mike Hambuchen
    Dec 20, 2015 - 3:58AM

    There has been no effort to win this militarily. Most sorties flown, and very D few, return with ordnance on the plane. Obamas restrictions on what can be done keep anything from getting [email protected] needed: Recommend

  • Pilot
    Dec 20, 2015 - 7:33AM

    @U-turn needed: The fact that Islamists like yourself are upset by a new type of drone is all the evidence needed as to why their production should be fast-tracked. Don’t look up now…Recommend

  • Dec 20, 2015 - 9:43AM

    America must develop weapons and killing machines to Continue the bogeyman of ‘America in Danger.’ If they don’t mollycoddle the MIC and cudgel innocent and harmless countries and their peoples, America will not feel safe. They feel their borders have to be protected from outside their borders and not from within. So, what do they do? Hammer away at self-made bogeys and keep their MIC and military happy. SalamsRecommend

  • Simple Question?
    Dec 20, 2015 - 11:24AM

    @Mike Hambuchen:

    “Obamas restrictions on what can be done keep anything from getting done”

    And what would be those restriction Obama put? Were those restrictions also there during Bush administration?Recommend

  • Simple Question?
    Dec 20, 2015 - 11:31AM


    “The only thing that Islamic Arabic culture understands or respects is brute force and overwhelming power,”

    Good observation. And what is “the thing” Indians understand or respect? Just asking, since you have a thousand years long period of understanding. Recommend

  • Chris Louviere
    Dec 20, 2015 - 12:08PM

    @U-turn needed: That is unfortunately not true. We have not fully invested in total war against Islam. We have been fighting a limited war of containment. And, to be completely frank, we lack the will to prosecute a total war against Islam. We have the power to completely wipe out any vestige of Islam on this planet. It isn’t a question of ability, it is one of will. We lack the will for genocide. We do not lack the capacity for it.Recommend

  • Ima Danzing
    Dec 20, 2015 - 12:13PM

    I give the democrats exactly one week from the drone’s debut to hand over the technology to the Chinese. Recommend

  • Ima Danzing
    Dec 20, 2015 - 12:15PM

    I give the democrats one week from the time of the drone’s debut to hand over the technology to the Chinese.Recommend

  • John Campbell
    Dec 20, 2015 - 3:53PM

    I sure hope whatever it is they’re attempting to build is far more than what’s been pictured here. These are decades old pics that I personally saw decades ago when they were still considered the latest tech.Recommend

  • W
    Dec 20, 2015 - 4:31PM

    Many pro Obama trolls on here the only good Muslim is a dead oneRecommend

  • Ben Joseph
    Dec 20, 2015 - 5:08PM

    @U-turn needed:
    We haven’t unleashed our “military superiority” in the region. We’ve been severely restricted from a total war strategy because of political sensitivities. Make no mistake, if we were to exercise full use of our military force without restriction, it would have been over long ago.Recommend

  • Rick Zee
    Dec 20, 2015 - 7:28PM

    The photographs show a manned fighter, the CONVAIR XFY Pogo, a competitive design to the Lockheed XFV.

    Prototypes of both designs were built and briefly tested. Performance was not adequate for combat situations, and a very high degree of pilot skill was required, especially for landing.

    The envisioned tactical role, convoy protection, was not achieved.

    The entire project, including flight testing, was done in the mid 1950’s.
    Drones (Unmanned Aerial Vehicles) do NOT have cockpit canopies like those shown, because there is no pilot.Recommend

  • William
    Dec 20, 2015 - 7:57PM

    As long as civilians are not affected and politicians are not affected, both will stand and watch the drones kill the bad guys. Then they go home to their family and have supper.

    When this stops and civilians and politicians start getting killed in the war, THEY will either join the ones fighting (least likely) or they will join forces and make an issue of their situation on TV, Radio, in the UN and anywhere they can get people to listen. They will join other groups and then EVERYONE can gang up and kill the bad guys.

    Right now civilians and politicians have no skin in the game so they sit on the sidelines and do NOTHING.Recommend

  • Mike0oSS
    Dec 20, 2015 - 8:03PM

    The machines will soon take over fighting wars….until they start killing us all.Recommend

  • Arthur Jackson
    Dec 20, 2015 - 9:28PM

    Payload, range, speed, altitude, stealth….Recommend

  • John B
    Dec 20, 2015 - 9:51PM

    @History Repeats, Again:
    I hope you are not a tax accountant. You are not reading the tax code as defined in your examples. Among all the nations in the western world, the US has the lowest tax rate. Ever wonder how and why ? Recommend

  • Simple Question?
    Dec 21, 2015 - 7:09AM

    @Chris Louviere:

    “We lack the will for genocide.”

    LOL. A few hints for your memories. Jews, Red Indians, Vietnam, Afghanistan, Iraq,…..Recommend

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