Northrop N381 Manta naval strike aircraft


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5 April 2006
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One of the things I uncovered in the Miller archive was an odd and poorly documented design for a flying wing naval aircraft. No designation, performance or date. All I can say is:
1: Was found in a binder of Northrop design projects
2: Was created on a CAD system
3: Isn't actually an A-6 intruder, but does kinda look like one, and seems to fullfill a simialr role.

Given all that, I'm *speculating* that this is a Northrop-Grumman design, *possibly* an early design for the A-12. There are some stealthy aspects to the design, but also some unstealthy aspects (you can see straight in the inlet to the turbines, frex).


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Yes, a NOC design from the late 80's from Aircraft Division. An alternate had unducted fans.

Not an A-12 effort but a S-3 replacement - MMA, I think. Multi-role Maritime Aircraft?

"Isn't actually an A-6 intruder"

Don't think so, too, just quite a superficial resemblance.


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Looks like it seats four. Perhaps a study of a follow on for the EA-6 series?
hard to tell, I think, but you may be right. I supposed
the cockpit, or better the canopy, to be the red outlined part.


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Interesting to note that CAD design means mid-80s timeframe or even later, but in the same time no radikal signs of Northrop's stealth family heritage is seen. It was already a time when Cashen/Waaland knew much of all-aspect stealth. I could be wrong, though.
I take it those are Harpoons, HARM's, and Sparrows in the drawing? :eek: Woulda been nice to see this one fly.
Well, the pics are quite small, but I think there are several sonobuoys launchers at the rear so, it could be a combination A-6 / S-3 sustitute.
Regards from Seville
Reading "Radar/Sensor Module" on the last plans Scott posted suggests there's a switching of sensors depending on the mission. An all-in-one wonder plane, perchance?

Courtesy Tony Buttler, some *actual* information on this design:
I am pretty sure that will be the N-381 Manta, a naval strike aircraft design from the early 1980s


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Thanks Tony Buttler (and Orion for posting it)! :)

Then it's a Northrop, not a Grumman design.
Interesting design!
Some how I missed this forum :'(

It does look like a four-seat design – forward fuselage very Prowler.
I agree looks like possible sonar tubes.
Would be very cleaver and daring of Northrop, who has not had a carrier compatible design since I can’t remember (well technically speaking the F/A-18 Hornet. But do not tell that to McDonnell Douglas/Boeing!!!) to come out with such a multi-role aircraft to replace the likes of the A-6, EA-6B and S-3 Viking.

Would be very interesting to see specifications of this N-381 Mantra

Hopefully under the Obama new reforms, we may yet see a return of the US Navy’s true carrier strike capability to replace the long missed and neglected Medium Attack capability.

Well I can hope and dream cant I?

Pioneer said:
It does look like a four-seat design

...Part of the Navy's plans to produce an attack aircraft you could take the family along with you when going on a mission.

"Allright! You kids settle down back there, or I'm pulling your D-rings!"


Attachments removed - scans from Ian Allan publication.
This was designed by John B. in 1985 as part of the Northrop white world Advanced Design group for a program called AMSS (Advanced Multi- Sensor System). It had four seats, a design speed of M= 0.8 and was to be fitted with EW, ASW avionics and used for A-6 missions. A COD version was also considered. I was not aware of this thread since I searched for N381 rather than N-381 - we did not use the dash in our designations during my tenure but it is often used. During this timeframe we helped Fokker with the F100 COD design for the same mission.

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