DARPA LONGSHOT Missile Carrying Drone

Bhurki

ACCESS: Secret
Joined
Jul 16, 2020
Messages
308
Reaction score
294
Design Gets Underway on DARPA’s ‘LongShot’ Drone

Development of a new breed of unmanned aircraft is now underway, as three major defense companies earned contracts to start designing a future system known as “LongShot.”

The LongShot program wants to create an unmanned weapons porter that can be shot from another plane before firing multiple air-to-air missiles itself, according to the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, which runs the effort.


The program called for $22 million in its first year (FY22).

EtuvtRdXIAIRB8H.png

(Shown launching notional Cuda like missile)
 

Bhurki

ACCESS: Secret
Joined
Jul 16, 2020
Messages
308
Reaction score
294
I wonder if it will be recoverable. Potentially a lot of money and nastiness flying around if its launched and not fully expended.
It probably won't be recoverable, the logistics qnd complexity for that would be way more expensive than expending the missile.

If the art is somewhat reliable, it would suggest the form factor to be similar to Jassm with the large fuel tank and warhead replaced with space for 2-4 AAM + SARH sensor + fuel for an air-air engagement session(10-15 min).

Wouldn't mind if its expendable if it costs the same as a Jassm though.
 
Last edited:

jsport

what do you know about surfing Major? you're from-
Joined
Jul 27, 2011
Messages
3,708
Reaction score
1,425
More reason a F/A-XX should be an F/B-XX..ala F-111
 

trose213

ACCESS: Secret
Joined
Jul 29, 2018
Messages
305
Reaction score
151
I wonder if it will be recoverable. Potentially a lot of money and nastiness flying around if its launched and not fully expended.
It probably won't be recoverable, the logistics qnd complexity for that would be way more expensive than expending the missile.

If the art is somewhat reliable, it would suggest the form factor to be similar to Jassm with the large fuel tank and warhead replaced with space for 2-4 AAM + SARH sensor + fuel for an air-air engagement session(10-15 min).

Wouldn't mind if its expendable if it costs the same as a Jassm though.

Think most of the the sensing will be done off board, think system of systems. I would also think it'll have much more loiter time, or multiple versions come out of this program for different types of engagements. I could see a version tailored for the F-15 that would allow it to shoot down 5th and 6th gen fighters, like nothing.
 

TomcatViP

Hellcat
Joined
Feb 12, 2017
Messages
4,794
Reaction score
4,310
IMOHO we should see this new program as a middle ground b/w the flying missile rail and the Loyal Wingman.
I don't see how much systems of system could be embedded in that platform since there is no need (the carried missiles have already data link and multi-domain sensors) and the potential of being ever recovered in a time sensitive manner is null.
It's my opinion that this new program is the equivalent of what compressed paper drop tanks were during WWII, except that today, it's a piece of the entire fighter gunnery that is flown out to extend its lethal range and paper has probably been replaced by CFRP...
 
Last edited:

AeroFranz

ACCESS: Top Secret
Senior Member
Joined
May 4, 2008
Messages
2,392
Reaction score
422
two quick notes: i believe the flying rail evolved into Longshot. Wasn't FR also DARPA? If the PM is the same as the person who was peddling FR, then it's all but a foregone conclusion.
I agree that you're unlikely to recover the vehicle after firing. You may be literally a thousand nautical miles away from wherever the mission originated. Also, if memory serves, the Longshot requirements only specified something like being able to keep the vehicle under control for a limited amount of time after firing the second weapon.
This seemingly weird requirement stemmed from the fact that on Longshot the two missile payload constitutes a big percentage of the mass, and firing them potentially introduces problems with keeping the cg in the desired place.
 

TomcatViP

Hellcat
Joined
Feb 12, 2017
Messages
4,794
Reaction score
4,310
@AeroFranz : good point. The guidance system would probably be the one... Embedded in the missile. ;)
I see Longshot mainly as a powered aerodynamic shell.
 

skyblue

ACCESS: Confidential
Joined
Sep 20, 2009
Messages
57
Reaction score
38
Isn't this basically a multistage missile with a couple of independent warheads housed in an aerodynamic shell? Except you have the booster tacked at the end of the flight instead of the beginning, for the purpose of more energetic flight close up to the target. Building this like a miniature aircraft with a payload bay seems overly complicated. What is the advantage of this approach over a more traditional multistage missile with an airbreathing first stage and a rocket boosted warhead at the pointy end, exposed to the airstream?
 

TomcatViP

Hellcat
Joined
Feb 12, 2017
Messages
4,794
Reaction score
4,310
@skyblue : Flight aerodynamics b/w a Sonic cruiser/glider and a Mach4 highly manœuvrable missile aren't easily reconcilable. Going through two airframe (the missile and the carrier) allows them to simplify the system and optimize their individual performances for a better match to the overall mission parameters.

Edit:
“An air system using multi-modal propulsion could capitalize upon a slower speed, higher fuel-efficient air vehicle for ingress, while retaining highly energetic air-to-air missiles for endgame target engagement,” the Defense Department stated in fiscal 2021 budget material. That way, the UAV gets the benefit of being able to traverse longer ranges, while the weapons it launches have a higher probability of destroying their intended targets.
 
Last edited:

Bhurki

ACCESS: Secret
Joined
Jul 16, 2020
Messages
308
Reaction score
294
IMO, the longshot will act mainly as a weapons carrier (AAM specifically) and open up various vectors of attack(since an aircraft can only be at one place at one time) from close range(due to its relatively higher stealth and using data from host's sensor, hence passive reciever) without jeopardizing the host aircraft itself.

Visualize it as a Jassm carrying 4 peregrines and launching from a range of 10-15 miles to take down an entire flight (without spiking them) of aircraft without the launching aircraft ever getting into danger and cueing the longshot from 40-50 miles away. Thats why it only makes sense for it to be a passive sensor.
 

Bhurki

ACCESS: Secret
Joined
Jul 16, 2020
Messages
308
Reaction score
294
View attachment 650520

proposal from Northrop Grumman
This is more of a valkyrie type aircraft ( based on dimensions with respct to the missile). Not sure how you hang one of these on the hardpoints of a tactical jet.

Otoh, the pic from the first post shows a craft of 12-14ft in length (based solely on cuda being 6 feet and the ejector bay being half the crafts length).
 

Bhurki

ACCESS: Secret
Joined
Jul 16, 2020
Messages
308
Reaction score
294
More reason a F/A-XX should be an F/B-XX..ala F-111
It certainly will be.. The primary deficiency in an F22 is its range and payload bay capacity. If it could launch the likes of Jassm and go further (50%+ raptor), then it would be a hell of a proposition.
 

TomcatViP

Hellcat
Joined
Feb 12, 2017
Messages
4,794
Reaction score
4,310
NG marketing hushes that came with the picture above:
 
Last edited:

AeroFranz

ACCESS: Top Secret
Senior Member
Joined
May 4, 2008
Messages
2,392
Reaction score
422
Here's the problem. You want to design a small/expendable/cheap vehicle but it has to carry two AMRAAMs.
I actually looked into what's the smallest fighter/attack aircraft able to do so. i think it was something like the BAE Hawk (let me know if you can think of something else!). That's small by fighter standards, but HUGE by UAV/weapon carrier standards. Obviously you don't carry a couple of those under the wings of an F-15...
The point being, we're used to seeing a couple of AMRAAMs as a perfectly sensible load out, but shrink the vehicle to where they represent 20-30% of the total mass, and you have a whole new problem on your hands.

You can:
a) put them inside the vehicle. Because, as an aircraft designer eloquently said before, "the outside has to be bigger than the inside", you end up with something physically large. It has a huge cavity in the middle of the aiframe, which the structures folks are going to *love*. There is less less drag from the exposed missile, but there's more of the wetted area of the fuselage. All in all, not great.

b) stick the missiles externally. Now the length of the fuselage is no longer dictated by the missiles, it's whatever's needed for fuel, systems, propulsion. The structures and cost folks are happy. The survivability people on the other hand hate it.

The NG folks decided that option a) did not offer a combination of qualities worth going with, larger signature notwithstanding. I trust they have the basics of survivability down to make that call...

edit: i stand corrected. Zooming on the farthest vehicle, you can see the outline of a long, skinny door that may just be long enough for another missile. I'm a bit puzzled because that implies you can carry more than 2 weapons ??? :oops:

edit2: the shape of the missile is messed up...fins don't match AIM-120 shape...and the body diameter looks much thicker in relationship to length...is this a CUDA or something like that? It's hard to figure out without anything in the picture giving a sense of scale.
 
Last edited:

stealthflanker

ACCESS: Top Secret
Senior Member
Joined
Feb 12, 2010
Messages
1,011
Reaction score
927
IMO, the longshot will act mainly as a weapons carrier (AAM specifically) and open up various vectors of attack(since an aircraft can only be at one place at one time) from close range(due to its relatively higher stealth and using data from host's sensor, hence passive reciever) without jeopardizing the host aircraft itself.

Visualize it as a Jassm carrying 4 peregrines and launching from a range of 10-15 miles to take down an entire flight (without spiking them) of aircraft without the launching aircraft ever getting into danger and cueing the longshot from 40-50 miles away. Thats why it only makes sense for it to be a passive sensor.

Why a stealthy loyal wingman drone cannot do the same ? with added benefits of it can actually return to base.
 

Bhurki

ACCESS: Secret
Joined
Jul 16, 2020
Messages
308
Reaction score
294
IMO, the longshot will act mainly as a weapons carrier (AAM specifically) and open up various vectors of attack(since an aircraft can only be at one place at one time) from close range(due to its relatively higher stealth and using data from host's sensor, hence passive reciever) without jeopardizing the host aircraft itself.

Visualize it as a Jassm carrying 4 peregrines and launching from a range of 10-15 miles to take down an entire flight (without spiking them) of aircraft without the launching aircraft ever getting into danger and cueing the longshot from 40-50 miles away. Thats why it only makes sense for it to be a passive sensor.

Why a stealthy loyal wingman drone cannot do the same ? with added benefits of it can actually return to base.
More expensive (both capex and opex), less chances of survival (large size, larger signature).

While longshot's only goal would be to reach a designated vector(single use) while being undetected and getting passive cues(smaller signature), a loyal wingman will have to survive enough times to justify its cost, which, if its supposed to take on A-A dominance, would be high.

The loyal wingman does more of a spectrum wide augmentation of force in terms of the flexibility it provides in SAR, S/DEAD, Situational awareness etc. for reduced cost. The longshot, imo, is a specialised tool for A-A engagements.
 

coanda

ACCESS: Secret
Joined
Feb 3, 2009
Messages
303
Reaction score
292
I wonder if it will be recoverable. Potentially a lot of money and nastiness flying around if its launched and not fully expended.
It probably won't be recoverable, the logistics qnd complexity for that would be way more expensive than expending the missile.

If the art is somewhat reliable, it would suggest the form factor to be similar to Jassm with the large fuel tank and warhead replaced with space for 2-4 AAM + SARH sensor + fuel for an air-air engagement session(10-15 min).

Wouldn't mind if its expendable if it costs the same as a Jassm though.
It won't cost the same as a JASSM. Especially carrying two AIM-260s. It should be recoverable because of the extra costs involved but it will be impractical to do so in many cases - and recoverable could just be parachutes and air bags.
 

coanda

ACCESS: Secret
Joined
Feb 3, 2009
Messages
303
Reaction score
292
two quick notes: i believe the flying rail evolved into Longshot. Wasn't FR also DARPA? If the PM is the same as the person who was peddling FR, then it's all but a foregone conclusion.
I agree that you're unlikely to recover the vehicle after firing. You may be literally a thousand nautical miles away from wherever the mission originated. Also, if memory serves, the Longshot requirements only specified something like being able to keep the vehicle under control for a limited amount of time after firing the second weapon.
This seemingly weird requirement stemmed from the fact that on Longshot the two missile payload constitutes a big percentage of the mass, and firing them potentially introduces problems with keeping the cg in the desired place.
There will be a need to account for offset CofG in the case of single missile carriage. If both missiles are expended it'll be fine.

It looks like the missile bay cover doors are ejected on firing.

A system like this needs 2 ejector assemblies, a structure to support that, fuel comms, sensors, systems and engines. That isn't 'cheap'.

I would prefer to have seen a rotating missile bay cover similar to a buccaneer bomb bay door.
 

TomcatViP

Hellcat
Joined
Feb 12, 2017
Messages
4,794
Reaction score
4,310
IMOHO, there is no sensors or coms. The missiles have it. Idem for the structure bearing the load of the system: the missiles have it. The only thing needed is to strap on a swiveling wing set, the way it's done on a gliding weapon (yes probably via a dual adapter).
Regarding recovery, once the missiles are expended, the mass will drop by way more than 50%, instantly turning the remaining host shell into a perfectly sound glider that can make it's way toward a point where it can eventually be recovered (there are software outhere that can glide drones using thermal updraft, navigating without GPS using basic star system navigation etc...).
The only thing that remains to be added is a small geolocation device that pings its position the more suitable way...
It's gonna be very basic but, as NG pointed out, will use all the resources of the US industry.
Something that won't be easily duplicated by others on a sane cost-basis.
 
Last edited:

coanda

ACCESS: Secret
Joined
Feb 3, 2009
Messages
303
Reaction score
292
Its an autonomous vehicle in its own right. There are sensors and comms.

Missiles will probably be datalinked to the manned interface, and potentially there could be messages sent from the missiles to the carrying vehicle to initiate launch or those messages get sent to the carrying vehicle, or both.
 

stealthflanker

ACCESS: Top Secret
Senior Member
Joined
Feb 12, 2010
Messages
1,011
Reaction score
927
More expensive (both capex and opex), less chances of survival (large size, larger signature).

While longshot's only goal would be to reach a designated vector(single use) while being undetected and getting passive cues(smaller signature), a loyal wingman will have to survive enough times to justify its cost, which, if its supposed to take on A-A dominance, would be high.

The loyal wingman does more of a spectrum wide augmentation of force in terms of the flexibility it provides in SAR, S/DEAD, Situational awareness etc. for reduced cost. The longshot, imo, is a specialised tool for A-A engagements.

Well a Loyal wingman can stay much further than possible enemy weapon range and actually be a missile truck, carrying more firepower internally. and having longer endurance. SIgnature can be made small. Which basically what everyone is doing with their loyal wingman program ATM. I would expect some figures of at least 0.1 sqm or less in S-band which also everyone use in AEW's. L-band provides longer range but AEW is not really a low RCS platform, if it's gone then the Longshot is dead without any cues, and eventually has to become a loyal wingman if it wants to carry its own sensor.

Another thing is size, the longshot might be limited to external carriage for fighter aircrafts which means larger signature too for the carrier as this thing is bigger than any missiles and wont fit into internal bay. Unless one plan to drop it out of larger plane which basically can be detected in long range.

Plus how far this thing should go ? 500 Km ? If the desire is undetected approach then it would be more suited for land attack as the thing would be subsonic and even in Mach 0.9 it would be a half an hour flight while a target with similar speed might already move another 500 km by the time longshot got there, outside of anything carried by the longshot. If it moves supersonic then it would have infra red signature that needs to be dealt, basically becoming a more complex version of AAM's.

If it means to "ambush" by loitering in probable intercept point then it could become a waste of AAM's especially if the enemy is not passing near the envelope of the weapon, and it would grow big for the endurane requirement. the L/D Ratio could be limited and it might need to adopt flying wing or some other low observable shape.
 

Josh_TN

ACCESS: Top Secret
Joined
Sep 4, 2019
Messages
1,189
Reaction score
798
Long Shot is a DARPA program, so it best viewed as basic research or a hedge to loyal wingman, which I think is a program of record with the USAF (or perhaps a subset of skyborg?). I'm generally of the opinion that it doesn't bring anything to the table over a long range, externally carried AAM and loyal wingman, unless loyal wingman is going to have a significantly shorter range than manned fighters. Either get a longer ranged, outsized AAM (Long Shot would be a large external store anyway) or have a fully reusable drone - this seems to fill a tiny middle ground niche that doesn't need filling.

The one thing that did just pop into my mind writing that is Long Shot makes a lot more sense in the context of a strategic bomber, if it could be sized as a ~2000lb internal store. A B-21 would not want to directly launch a long range AAM if it could avoid it and it's range puts it outside the envelope of any reusable drone support.
 

TomcatViP

Hellcat
Joined
Feb 12, 2017
Messages
4,794
Reaction score
4,310
Longshot will achieve loitering times well beyond anything achieved by a long range missile.
The concept of a dual mode system is absolutely valid and would not have been reached in a cost-efficient way by a loyal Wingman drone or a missile itself.
The goal is to rip off as much cost you can from a classical weapon system to bring to A2A weaponry time-on-station performances similar to a much more costly UCAV.

With their wings folded back, a Longshot won't take more volume than a stealthy cruise missile and might even be carried inside the weapon bays of a stealth fighter.

Last but not least, Longshot could open new horizons to short range light weight A2G weapons as depicted in the artist renderings.
 
Last edited:

Josh_TN

ACCESS: Top Secret
Joined
Sep 4, 2019
Messages
1,189
Reaction score
798
We'll agree to disagree. The loiter times don't seem significant to me nor could the size possibly fit in a fighter internal bay; JSM is the largest store being contemplated as it stands. Again, the only useful context to my mind is bombers operating outside the range envelope of manned or unmanned escorts, though I would argue that is of sufficient utility (particularly in the Pacific theater where long ranges dominate) to make the project worth while. Also again, DARPA doesn't always fulfil roles or needs that the USAF is actively thinking about.
 

red admiral

ACCESS: Top Secret
Joined
Sep 16, 2006
Messages
755
Reaction score
310
Are you expecting to be in a sensor-range limited fight? or a weapons-range limited fight?

How much do you care about timeliness of response?
 

jsport

what do you know about surfing Major? you're from-
Joined
Jul 27, 2011
Messages
3,708
Reaction score
1,425
We'll agree to disagree. The loiter times don't seem significant to me nor could the size possibly fit in a fighter internal bay; JSM is the largest store being contemplated as it stands. Again, the only useful context to my mind is bombers operating outside the range envelope of manned or unmanned escorts, though I would argue that is of sufficient utility (particularly in the Pacific theater where long ranges dominate) to make the project worth while. Also again, DARPA doesn't always fulfil roles or needs that the USAF is actively thinking about.
If bombers are necessary to protect fighters which are there to protect bombers, and your not going to have enough bombers already this goes...//

Missiles carrying missiles launched from UCRAVs (essentially missiles) which are protecting fighters this goes//

Why not at least contemplate fighters w/ advanced EMRG/EMTC/RAVEN recoilless guns firing ram/scram rds able to defeat everything from fighters at distance to hardened structure from close. Everyone wants to forget the amount of future hardened structures...
 

AeroFranz

ACCESS: Top Secret
Senior Member
Joined
May 4, 2008
Messages
2,392
Reaction score
422
does anyone have the DARPA BAA? that ought to contain the threshold and goal performance (endurance, range, payload, etc.)
 

trose213

ACCESS: Secret
Joined
Jul 29, 2018
Messages
305
Reaction score
151
Longshot will achieve loitering times well beyond anything achieved by a long range missile.
The concept of a dual mode system is absolutely valid and would not have been reached in a cost-efficient way by a loyal Wingman drone or a missile itself.
The goal is to rip off as much cost you can from a classical weapon system to bring to A2A weaponry time-on-station performances similar to a much more costly UCAV.

With their wings folded back, a Longshot won't take more volume than a stealthy cruise missile and might even be carried inside the weapon bays of a stealth fighter.

Last but not least, Longshot could open new horizons to short range light weight A2G weapons as depicted in the artist renderings.

It's a pretty simple concept. This is basically a ghetto implementation of the proposed concept. I'd imagine it'll be used for suppressing air fields.

 

jsport

what do you know about surfing Major? you're from-
Joined
Jul 27, 2011
Messages
3,708
Reaction score
1,425
A Thirsty Sabre/Tacit Rainbow/Assault Breaker like capability delivering mini-missiles might be delivered via IRBM and or Hypersonics.
 

TomcatViP

Hellcat
Joined
Feb 12, 2017
Messages
4,794
Reaction score
4,310
The ‘mothership’ drone could be sized to fit either bombers or fighters, or perhaps both, the DARPA spokesperson said. “The selected performers will conduct trade studies to determine the best viable employment aircraft for the LongShot vehicle,” the spokesperson explained.



“For each fighter and bomber aircraft there are unique weight and size limitations that internal and external stores must meet in order to be carried on that aircraft,” Engdahl said. “DARPA has asked our company to meet those requirements. The Northrop Grumman autonomous system is sized so that it may be carried on existing fighters and bombers.”
From the link above. Awnsers the question of the hosting platform.
 

Josh_TN

ACCESS: Top Secret
Joined
Sep 4, 2019
Messages
1,189
Reaction score
798
If it can fit inside a bomb bay, I'd think external carriage would be rather simple.
 

Similar threads

Top