California Microwave CM-46: a rare Government-funded prototype revealed

Stargazer2006

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It is not always that we get a peak at a totally unknown prototype. This is one such moment. I believe there is no reason to withhold the following anymore, so enjoy...

The California Microwave CM-46 prototype [N112CM] was the final development of the CM-44 (Scaled Composites Model 144) program, the result of a Martin Hollmann redesign. Contrary to the CM-44, the CM-46 was government funded. Unfortunately, as it was developed from a navigator's, not a pilot's point of view, the CM-46 was ugly, couldn't fly properly and never went operational. The fact that Burt Rutan and Scaled Composites were no longer involved in this project at all probably accounts for the design's flaws and poor performance.

No pictures or data of this rare aircraft were ever released... until today. The photo below is most probably the only decent picture of it that will ever be available, as the program's assets were all destroyed on cancellation of the program (except for this sole photo, salvaged by someone involved in the program and given to me as a gift along with the specs sheet, photos of the CM-44 program, and video tapes of both flight programs which I unfortunately haven't got the technology to transfer to digital right now).

SPECIFICATIONS FOR THE MODEL CM-46 AIRCRAFT:

  • Engine: Lycoming TIO-360-CIA6D 210 BHP fuel injected pusher, turbo-charged dynafocal mount, one or two 100 amp alternators 28 volt system
  • Propeller: MT 3-blade, constant speed, fiberglass covered wooden blades with stainless leading edges
  • Exhaust system: Downward facing pipe, exhaust from the turbo-charger
  • Cargo: 45 cubic feet cargo area with down-and-forward looking clear view. Maximum allowable weight for pilot, payload and fuel is 1,140 lbs
  • Performance:
    Takeoff and landing distance 1,400 feet @ 2,700 lbs
    Sea level climb > 900 ft/min @ 2,700 lbs GW
    Max speed > 135 KTAS @ sea level; 155 KTAS @ 20,000 ft
    Loiter speed 85 knots
    Altitude capability: 23,000 ft
    Example:
    Empty weight 2,060 lbs
    Pilot weight 200
    Fuel weight 400
    Payload weight 540 lbs
    ----------------------
    Total weight 3200 lbs
    This will give 5 hours flying time plus 30 minutes reserve


  • Lifting surface area: 177 sq ft
  • Wing span: 32 ft
  • Length: 19.5 ft (max, wings off)
  • Gross weight: 3,200 lbs Max (Takeoff), 3,000 lbs (Landing)
  • Empty weight: 2,060 lbs Basic IFR
  • Landing gear: Fixed composite main with wheel pants, retractable, steerable nose gear with oleo strut. Landing gear is operated hydraulically with a mechanical backup.
  • Canard: Removable, with manual pitch control elevators
  • Main wing: Detachable wings with 90 inch maximum center section attached to the fuselage, manual roll control ailerons, hard points for 14 inch ejector rack (one on each wing)
  • Winglets: Fixed, with 87 degree inboard cant (to waterline), manual yaw control rudders
  • Fuel System: Gravity filled, with left and right tanks in wing strake, gravity flow to a single header tank of 4 gallons, mechanical pump and electric boost. Provision for electric fuel flow measurement, capable of being downlinked. 110 gallon capacity.




For more information on the CM-44 program, check out STARGAZER, my website on Rutan designs:
http://stargazer2006.online.fr/menu.htm
Click on "THE VARIEZE/LONG-EZ LINE" >> Model 144.
 

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Stargazer2006

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Re: California Microwave CM-46

Despite the 238 visits to this page, I am somewhat disappointed that a completely unknown Government-funded prototype from 20 years ago did not generate any sort of comment or reaction. Has the Secret Projects population become kind of blasé? Just wondering.
 

overscan (PaulMM)

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Re: California Microwave CM-46

Sorry, its not the kind of plane I find interesting, personally. I'm sure that others will appreciate the posting however - but perhaps explaining what it was, and putting more clues in the title of the post, might have helped.
 

Colonial-Marine

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Re: California Microwave CM-46: a rare Government-funded OPV revealed

What was the government's goal in funding this project? Composite testing?
 

Grey Havoc

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Re: California Microwave CM-46: a rare Government-funded OPV revealed

I'd hazard a guess and say it was originally related to SDI research on airborne sensor platforms. Although the late 80's/early 90's timeline is interesting.
 
I

Ian33

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Re: California Microwave CM-46: a rare Government-funded OPV revealed

http://4.bp.blogspot.com/_o_no4M2xEPY/TCGUm-11PHI/AAAAAAAAKrE/wQBjrbv22aI/s1600/RUSTOM-H-2.JPG

Goodness me the Indians seem to have taken Mr Rutans hard work and borrowed heavily from it for their 'Rustom' UAV.
 

Stargazer2006

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Ian33 said:
http://4.bp.blogspot.com/_o_no4M2xEPY/TCGUm-11PHI/AAAAAAAAKrE/wQBjrbv22aI/s1600/RUSTOM-H-2.JPG

Goodness me the Indians seem to have taken Mr Rutans hard work and borrowed heavily from it for their 'Rustom' UAV.

Yep. The Rustom-I was in effect an Indian-built Long-EZ, but the Rustom-H is a local (and not very handsome) design.
All about the Rustom story on my website: http://stargazer2006.online.fr/derivatives/rustom.htm
 

Stargazer2006

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Colonial-Marine said:
What was the government's goal in funding this project? Composite testing?

The California Microwave CM-30 was very similar to a standard Long-EZ, and was originally entered in the first U.S. Army UAV competition (apparently with some help from Lockheed). Its development, the California Microwave CM-44, was a private venture and was designed with the help of Rutan's Scaled Composites (Model 144) as an enlarged Long-EZ built from stealth materials, a Lycoming 360 turbo-engine and a large rear compartment which could accommodate two passengers or mission equipment (sensors for ELINT, photo, etc.). It proved to be a great aircraft with good range, versatile mission capability and a solid engine.

Developmental flight testing ensued, and both the Army and Navy evaluated the CM-44, the former receiving two examples (this particular point is pretty controversial since there is supposed to have been only one CM-44 prototype). The aircraft was then modified, resized, new wings, winglets and a canard were designed and built, and the aircraft, now called the CM-44A, was test flown successfully. A further variant was developed as the CM-44B, a two-seater version. No photos of these variants have surfaced.

The CM-46 presented here for the first time was the final development of the program and proved very disappointing.

So to answer your question as to the goal of the government, I'd say: stealth, sensors, photo reconnaissance and possibly some views towards a role as an Optionally Piloted Vehicle (OPV). Indeed, a few years ago the U.S. Army's OPFOR was using a version of the Long-EZ, the Vz-10, while the Velocity XL RG, a Long-EZ derivative, was evaluated as the Vz-11 (non-standard designations). Both were used as threat simulators in future war type scenarios.

More on the California Microwave CM-44 on my website: http://stargazer2006.online.fr/aircraft/opv.htm
 

PvtParts

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I used to work at California Microwave on government stuff... mostly radar test equipment and phase noise analyzers. I was not involved but a couple of technicians did go along... i seem to remember one of them thought he was there to party...not work on the airplane.... and got his butt in a meat grinder... the president would of been Dave Leeson obviously it never went any where or it would of turned up on the factory floor as a here is a new widget to test.. interesting about the liability aspect.... well at least some one saved some photos . learned more about the project from this web site than being an employee ..

Marc WB6DCE
 

DFC

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The Indians didn't *borrow* they actually *bought* the design. there's a thread on the rustoms somewhere on this site. I think.
 

Stargazer2006

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Just came across the image of a patch that sheds some light on the CM-30 program.

Described as the "IEW UAV" (Intelligence Electronic Warfare/Unmanned Area Vehicle), the aircraft depicted is a standard Long-EZ in front view.

Listed in two concentric circles around it are the names of all the companies involved in the program, which as you will see were quite numerous:

Outer blue circle : Kaman-Sciences — Beech — LAD — SAIC — Hughes — Emerson — Ferranti — plus 3 acronyms hard to decipher (look like ESL, BMS and CSG ?)
Inner black circle : Aeromet — Brunswick — Collins — Delfin — Pioneer — S-TEC — Sundstrand — Tracor

I've tried to enhance the pic as best as I could but the large version is a bit lousy... At least it's better than nothing I guess!
 

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Stargazer2006

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More on IEW UAV :

Unmanned airborne vehicles (UAV) have been organized within the Army into three functional categories (Figure 1-11).

(a) Target acquisition designation and aerial reconnaissance system (TADARS).
(b) General purpose (intelligence and electronic warfare (IEW) UAV.
(c) Expendables.

  • (a) Target acquisition designation and aerial reconnaissance system (TADARS) primary function is target acquisition and attack. A secondary function is reconnaissance and surveillance, depending upon the commander's priorities. The AQUILA UAV program is in the TADARS category. The AQUILA has the capability of laser-designating critical targets, both moving and stationary, for attack by laser-guided weapons. These weapons are launched by a variety of standoff systems. Although consolidated at corps, the AQUILA normally supports a division. It contains sections which will be allocated to each brigade of a supported division. The key to a successful UAV mission lies in planning and coordination.
  • (b) The function of the general purpose category is reconnaissance and surveillance. The Army program supporting this category is the IEW UAV. The IEW UAV is an EAC and corps-level system. The IEW UAV can--
    (1)See deep.
    (2)Provide superior IMINT and multisensor support to EAC requirements and to the corps and its subordinate units.
    (3)Provide timely interface to deep-targeting elements via the joint surveillance target attack radar system (JSTARS) ground station module (GSM)
    All IEW UAV products IEW UAV products are provided to the all-source analysis system (ASAS) for fusion into the commander's all-source intelligence products.
    A typical IEW UAV mission would proceed in the following manner: After takeoff from the corps rear area, the IEW UAV would proceed forward to conduct its R&S mission. The imagery is downlinked to the JSTARS GSM and a reconnaissance exploitation report (RECCEXREP) is prepared and forwarded to corps through available communications. Upon completion of the mission, the air vehicle returns to the corps rear area for recovery. IEW UAV support is allocated to corps and division users by the G2, based on the commander's guidance and coordination with the G3. Mission planning and tasking will be accomplished by the corps CM&D section and passed to the MI battalion (AE) for flight planning and execution.

  • (c) The last category of UAV is the expendable category. Expendable UAVs show great potential for employment on the battlefield, particularly with respect to lethal and nonlethal (primarily jamming) attack targets. Expendable UAVs may also be useful in performing special battlefield functions involving deception, resupply, and specialized reconnaissance.

Source: http://downloads.slugsite.com/cc-pdfs/IT0458.pdf
 

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