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Lockheed-Martin Cormorant MPUAV

flateric

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Images from SubPirates.Com forum depicts latest iteration of Cormorant MPUAV (Multi-purpose Unmanned Aeriel Vehicle).

Casting model photo (c) Marc aka fxmodels
CATIA models (c) Matt aka Thor
 

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flateric

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Earlier MPUAV LM graphics
 

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flateric

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LM MPUAV booklet
 

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flateric

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From Lockheed Martin's 'Aeronautics Star' quarterly, Q4 2006
Cormorant MPUAV test article as it is prepared for drop tests.
 

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sferrin

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Looks like a stealthy flying boat. No, not an airplane that can land on water but a flying speedboat :D

edit: It just occurred to me but I wonder if they're building a crane that fits inside an Ohio missile tube much in the same way they have/had those cranes inside the MK41 VLS.
 

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WOW, solid hardware! Now I am hopefully waiting for the fly/swim/submerse machine.

See that this vehicle has an old-style Skunk Works logo...
 

Sentinel Chicken

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How is the Cormorant recovered by a submerged sub? I don't think I've seen anything yet that explains that part of the system.
 

elmayerle

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flateric said:
From Lockheed Martin's 'Aeronautics Star' quarterly, Q4 2006
Cormorant MPUAV test article as it is prepared for drop tests.

This article is currently sitting on its transport dolly on the plant floor here in Ft. Worth (for any familiar with the plant, it's just inside the door nearest entrance gate 5). A most interesting piece of work. It carries logos for LM Aero Advanced Systems (SkunkWorks), Electric Boat, NAVSEA, and DARPA. I'm not totally sure about recovery, but it looks like they were experimenting with winching it down, tail first.

Oh, that cast model doesn't look quite right, but I couldn't immediately say what was wrong.
 

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DARPA has now cancelled the Cormorant MPUAV programme, after completing the splashdown and recovery model tests, so it won't fly any time soon, but the Skunk Works will probably keep the idea alive, as it has done with the hybrid airship.
 

flateric

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Very interesting Skunk Works presentations of Cormorant ca.2005 with testing details
'Submarine-Launched and Recovered Multi- Purpose UAV (MPUAV) Concept and Project Overview'
http://www.sftentx.org/SFTE_Symposium_Presentations/Wednesday_am_Session_7/MPUAV.SFTE2005.ForOctPresent.RevFor30min.ppt
http://www.sftentx.org/SFTE_Symposium_Presentations/Wednesday_am_Session_7/MPUAV_SFTE2005.ppt
and 64 Mb movie of MP-UAV - WORTH EVERY DOWNLOADED bite
http://www.sftentx.org/SFTE_Symposium_Presentations/Wednesday_am_Session_7/MPUAV.Short.Conferences.mpg

Enjoy!
 

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DARPA's fiscal year 2008 budget request simply says US Congress cut funding for Cormorant in its FY2007 budget and the programme is cancelled for FY2008. DARPA's overview of the programme says it achieved its goals with the "end-to-end demonstration" of splashdown and submerged retrieval - but it had previously talked about the possibility of a flight-test phase.

The "good news" is that DARPA wants to start up two new UAV demonstration programmes in FY2008 - one a high-altitude, long-endurance UAV that can be rocket-launched from the USA to anywhere in the world in 1-2 hours (think folding or inflatable airframe); the other - the Vulture - a very-high-altitude, ultra-long-endurance UAV that can stay aloft above an area of interest for "multiple months" (think solar and/or hydrigen power). Now they sound much more realistic...
 

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Here's a clip I just found (strategypage so take it for what it's worth ;) )

February 18, 2007: Lockheed's famous Skunk Works development facility had their four ton MPUAV (Multi-Purpose Unmanned Aerial Vehicle), shot down by a much cheaper 40 pound, expendable, UAV that can be launched from torpedo tubes. The Department of Defense and navy were not willing to put up the millions needed to develop the MPUAV into a combat ready state. Meanwhile, the navys 40 pound Scan Eagle mini-UAV has been cheaply adapted for use from aircraft and submarines. The Scan Eagle has a seven pound payload, can stay in the air for twenty hours and carries day, or night vision, stabilized (the image remains locked on the same area, even if the UAV is being buffeted by wind) cameras. Using GPS, the UAV can either fly a pre-programmed route, or proceed under operator control via radio signals. The ground version is launched using a pneumatic catapult, and lands by flying by a fifty foot pole holding a skyhook system. Scan Eagle has a top speed of 93 kilometers an hour. Development began in 2002, and it entered service in February 2003.


The new version of Scan Eagle has been reconfigured so that it can be launched from a bomb rack on an aircraft, or from a torpedo tube in a sub. Once launched into the air, the wings pop out and the gasoline engine starts. The air/sea Scan Eagle has the same flight characteristics of the land based version, and can be recovered by a ship or on land, or just allowed to crash.


All versions of the Scan Eagle cost about less than $100,000, while the MPUAV would have cost over ten million dollars each. An operator in the launching aircraft or submarine controls the Scan Eagle UAV, much like is done on land (using a radio link and a laptop equipped with control software.) The air launched version enables one aircraft to keep a close eye on a large amount of terrain, although the Scan Eagle will probably use a satellite commo link to enable operators on the ground (and probably far away) to control the UAVs after the manned aircraft run out of fuel and must depart. Submarines use a mini-torpedo, that, after reaching the surface, ejects the Scan Eagle high enough into the air so that the wings can pop out and the engine start. Once airborne, the Scan Eagle gives the submerged sub (using an antenna floated to the surface and connected to the sub via a cable) twenty hours of UAV reconnaissance. This can be used for all sorts of missions.


The air-launched Scan Eagle is also being adapted for launch from transports like the C-130 and MV-22.
 

flateric

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From LM Aeronautics Star
First Quarter 2007
Volume 8, Number 1
www.lmaeronautics.com/lmaerostar/

Advanced Development Programs team makes splash with successful underwater recovery of a unique aircraft
By Robert A. Ruszkowski

In 1997, the U.S. Navy began considering what role unmanned air vehicles (UAVs) might play in the future of naval operations. At that time, Lockheed Martin developed several ideas including one concept for a UAV that could be launched, recovered and re-launched from a submerged submarine. Nearly 10 years later, a team led by Advanced Development Programs (ADP), also known as Skunk Works®, proved that the most challenging aspects of this revolutionary concept
were possible.

Late last year, the ADP team made a splash with the first-ever successful underwater recovery of a UAV. The submarine-launched UAV, named the Cormorant Multi-Purpose UAV (MPUAV) by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), is named after a type of seabird known for its ability to dive from the surface and propel itself under water to significant depths.

In May 2005, DARPA awarded LM Aero an exclusive 18-month contract to establish the feasibility of key aspects of the Cormorant MPUAV system. By late October 2006, the MPUAV Phase One team achieved the first underwater docking of an unmanned system and successfully demonstrated the full recovery cycle of the MPUAV. These were the first known tests of their kind.

The Cormorant MPUAV full-scale demonstrations took place over a two-week period near Submarine Base Kitsap in Bangor, Wash., and were supported by the Naval Undersea Warfare Center — Keyport Division (NUWC-Keyport). A large Navy support barge and a commercial floating crane were moored in Thorndyke Bay in the Hood Canal and used as a base for the test operations.

The demonstrations included the use of a full-scale, full-weight replica of the Cormorant MPUAV, a full-scale test rig that emulated the launch and recovery saddle that would be extended vertically out of a ballistic missile launch tube of a submarine, and a modified NUWC-Keyport remotely operated vehicle (ROV) to couple a recovery line from the test rig to a recovery tether cable deployed from the buoyant MPUAV replica.

Tidal-driven currents were used to simulate the forward motion of the submarine during the recovery demonstrations. Additionally, instrumented splashdown drops from the crane and buoyant ascent launch releases from the static saddle rig (SSR) were conducted.

"The MPUAV full-scale demonstrations were a unique experience for Keyport. Typically we don't support aircraft programs; however, this one is launched and recovered underwater, and that's our domain," says Deb Triplett-Gillum, the NUWC-Keyport project manager. The Keyport support team included Navy divers, the Triumph ROV operators, as well as riggers, machinists and other specialists.

Teammate General Dynamics Electric Boat (GDEB) designed and built the massive SSR, as well as the coupling mechanism used to connect the recovery tether and inhaul line. Don Gage, GDEB program manager, noted that, "The SSR had to be placed on the seabed in two major sections using the floating crane. The Navy divers were instrumental in getting the SSR assembled and working." The team also included support from Lockheed Martin Maritime Systems and Sensors (MS2)-Perry Technologies.

"We were able to provide our expertise in underwater vehicles design, operations and testing to the Cormorant MPUAV project. This was a great example of teamwork across different Lockheed Martin companies," noted Joe Schimek of Perry Technologies.

The key accomplishments of the Cormorant MPUAV full-scale demonstrations include multiple submerged inhauls and dockings, instrumented splashdowns, ROV-assisted recovery cable hookup exercises, instrumented buoyant ascent tests and successful completion of a combined test comprising a splashdown, ROV-assisted recovery cable hookup, inhaul and docking.

Bob Ruszkowski, the Cormorant MPUAV team project manager and technical lead, summarized the team's success, adding, "These full-scale demonstrations prove the feasibility of the MPUAV recovery concept and have enabled the collection of valuable information to be applied to the design of an actual submarine-based Cormorant MPUAV system. Along the way, we achieved something that has never been done before."
 

flateric

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Skunk Works seeks funding for Cormorant MPUAV
Lockheed Martin's Skunk Works has finished successful preliminary tests on a new class of unmanned aircraft that can be launched from a submerged submarine. However, the company is currently seeking new funding from the US Navy because its contract with the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) was not renewed
[Jane's Defence Weekly - first posted to http://jdw.janes.com - 18 May 2007]
 

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Here's a patent for launching and recovering the Cormorant http://www.google.com/patents?id=V0d6AAAAEBAJ&printsec=abstract&zoom=4#PPP1,M1
 

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Computer animation of Lockheed Martin Skunk Works' Cormorant submarine-launched and -recovered UAV designed for DARPA's cancelled MPUAV program.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YQtPAaY5d1c


MPUAV: The Cormorant Story

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-FIeSkMW21E

Lockheed Martin Aeronautics Star company magazine First Quarter 2007 has an article on the MPUAV Cormorant:
http://www.lmaeronautics.com/lmaerostar/pdfs/2007/Star1QWeb.pdf
 

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Line drawings from Lockheed Martin patent.
 

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Figure 10 doesnt make sense to me. Why are they dumping it overboard? Are they resupplying a submarine? leaving it on the surface and waiting for a submarine to covertly retrieve it later? Or can it only be launched from the water?

???
 

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I think your last thought is correct. According to the patent description, the UAV can operate from a ship, where the UAV is deployed into the water, semi-submersed, and launched by a rocket.

 

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CammNut said:
DARPA has now cancelled the Cormorant MPUAV programme, after completing the splashdown and recovery model tests, so it won't fly any time soon, but the Skunk Works will probably keep the idea alive, as it has done with the hybrid airship.

It would be downright silly to dump promising new technology on the simple grounds that some politicians and high-ranking military brass changed their minds about it. If there is a need to test and validate the technology, it makes sense to keep it going on private funding to possibly reuse it later in another program, and if that's not feasible, to at least keep a technological edge anyway.
 

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Stargazer2006 said:
CammNut said:
DARPA has now cancelled the Cormorant MPUAV programme, after completing the splashdown and recovery model tests, so it won't fly any time soon, but the Skunk Works will probably keep the idea alive, as it has done with the hybrid airship.

It would be downright silly to dump promising new technology on the simple grounds that some politicians and high-ranking military brass changed their minds about it. If there is a need to test and validate the technology, it makes sense to keep it going on private funding to possibly reuse it later in another program, and if that's not feasible, to at least keep a technological edge anyway.

I don't know how much sense it would make to continue to fund a reusable UAV combat system designed specifically to be used in a vertical launch tube of an Ohio-class nuclear submarine. If you read sferrin's article from Strategy Page, the Cormorant MPUAV was canceled in favor of the much cheaper aircraft and torpedo tube-launched Scan Eagle UAV. In the case of the four Ohio-class SSGN conversions, they decided to install Multiple All-Up-Round (AUR) Canister (MAC) launchers containing seven UGM-109 Tomahawk land-attack missiles (TLAMs) in the vertical missile tubes.
http://www.secretprojects.co.uk/forum/index.php/topic,228.msg12707.html#msg12707

Would the much more expensive and more technically complex Lockheed Martin Cormorant MPUAV have been better for the US Navy than the Insitu Boeing Scan Eagle and UGM-109 Tomahawk TLAM combination? What could the Cormorant achieve that could not be achieved by Scan Eagle and seven Tomahawk land-attack missiles working in concert?
 

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You are most certainly right with regards to the said mission. The Scan Eagle is a lot less costly and uses proven technology. However, the morphing wing technology cannot be brushed aside just because the Cormorant did not fit the job in that operational context. It should be perfected so it can benefit other defense programs in the future.
 

Triton

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Stargazer2006 said:
You are most certainly right with regards to the said mission. The Scan Eagle is a lot less costly and uses proven technology. However, the morphing wing technology cannot be brushed aside just because the Cormorant did not fit the job in that operational context. It should be perfected so it can benefit other defense programs in the future.

I also wonder about the difficulties of open water recovery of the vehicle using a robotic underwater vehicle in high sea states and reeling the vehicle back into the vertical launch tube of a submarine at a loiter depth. Even though the Lockheed Martin literature states that the interior of the Cormorant is pressurized with inert gases or air, I wonder about the possibility of seal failure and interior flooding ruining interior engine and electronic components especially at higher atmospheric pressures encountered with a submarine at loiter depth.
 

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Matej said:
Alternative configuration.
Was this an earlier configuration that predates the more popular one that we see, or after?
 

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Triton said:
Would the much more expensive and more technically complex Lockheed Martin Cormorant MPUAV have been better for the US Navy than the Insitu Boeing Scan Eagle and UGM-109 Tomahawk TLAM combination? What could the Cormorant achieve that could not be achieved by Scan Eagle and seven Tomahawk land-attack missiles working in concert?

It depends on how you define "better". Current solution is cheaper and less capable, following the standard philosophy with lower possibilities, but reasonable costs. But also this aspect is questionable. Both - Tomahawk and Scan Eagle are in this case expendable. And Tomahawk itself is not a cheap weapon - fire ten of them and you will reach the estimated cost of one Cormorant. Also the Tomahawk is not the comparable weapon (system) with the Cormorant, because it was designed to penetrate the strong air defence and destroy strategic targets - you will not use it against car or single man. And this is one of the examples, where comes the Cormorant very handy - loitering in target area and attack the time-critical targets and/or support special operations.

donnage99 said:
Was this an earlier configuration that predates the more popular one that we see, or after?

They were developed simultaneously since 1997 (not only that two but also a few more) and the configuration that we usually see is the preferred concept. Preferred does not necessarily mean definitive.
 

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flateric said:
Very interesting Skunk Works presentations of Cormorant ca.2005 with testing details
'Submarine-Launched and Recovered Multi- Purpose UAV (MPUAV) Concept and Project Overview'
http://www.sftentx.org/SFTE_Symposium_Presentations/Wednesday_am_Session_7/MPUAV.SFTE2005.ForOctPresent.RevFor30min.ppt
http://www.sftentx.org/SFTE_Symposium_Presentations/Wednesday_am_Session_7/MPUAV_SFTE2005.ppt
and 64 Mb movie of MP-UAV - WORTH EVERY DOWNLOADED bite
http://www.sftentx.org/SFTE_Symposium_Presentations/Wednesday_am_Session_7/MPUAV.Short.Conferences.mpg

Enjoy!

anyone here have these files saved? mines were at now dead HDD...
thanks in advance...
 

flateric

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oh my! progressive systemic sclerosis...
and video? video? anyone?

Seagate! Burn in hell!
 

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flateric said:
oh my! progressive systemic sclerosis...
and video? video? anyone?

Seagate! Burn in hell!

Wait until you go to your video folder that you haven't visited for a week or so only to find out it no longer exists. Everything else is fine but your video folder is long gone. Not in the trash can, not accidentally dragged to another folder, just...gone. Even disc recovery software didn't show any evidence it had ever existed. Several years of collected military videos *poof*. Lost a kicka$$ USAF promotional video that included a shot from the ground of them skyhooking a soldier with a C-130. :'( Hope someone finds the video for you (already looked and I dont have that one).
 
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I'm sure this isn't the video you wanted, but it has a quick clip of a diver sat on top of the test vehicle sat in the water - big old beastie!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UnnWRndf978

This is a link to a flickr set where the photographer has some of Lockheeds UAV tech models from AVEIS 06

http://www.flickr.com/photos/toddsherman/229548694/sizes/l/in/photostream

There is Lockheed VARIOUS models as well.
 

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