The secretive Skunkworks operating branch under the Lockheed Martin parent label is developing an air-launched Unmanned Aircraft Vehicle (UAV) to aid in rapid development of other facets of flight. Dubbed "Speed Racer", the new platform is intended to test the validity of new manufacturing processes, onboard systems, and weapons before larger financial and material commitments in these areas are made. Features of this aircraft were revealed at the Aerpspace Warfare Symposium held virtually from February 24th until February 26th.
Appearing as part-aircraft, part-cruise missile, the unmanned air vehicle features a relatively flat, streamlined, and chine-shaped cross section with pointed nose and rear-mounted engine compartment. Over the dorsal line are hardpoint connections so the vehicle can be carried under the wing of a host ship for air-launching. The mainplanes are spring-loaded and held low and against the sides of the fuselage - springing open when the vehicle is prepared for flight. The tailplane arrangement utilizes as three-plane configuration with a pair of outward-cranked planes situated dorsally and a single ventral plane being featured.
Internally, the aircraft will sport a twin jet engine arrangement with turbojets supplied by Kratos Turbine Technologies (KTT). The exhaust port remains covered prior to launch and is ejected before ignition of the two units. Along with this action is the forward movement of the mainplanes which remain in a swept-back position for aerodynamic efficiency when fully extended. The payload capability of the air vehicle is being developed to host either ISR (Intelligence-Surveillance-Reconnaissance) equipment or an explosive warhead - perhaps detailing an envisioned twin-role capability for a new United States Air Force (USAF) aerial weapon still to come.
(OPERATORS list includes past, present, and future operators when applicable)
✓X-Plane (Developmental, Prototype, Technology Demonstrator)
Aircraft developed for the role of prototyping, technology demonstration, or research / data collection.
Aircraft inherently designed (or later developed) with an unmanned capability to cover a variety of over-battlefield roles.
2 x Kratos Turbine Technologies (KTT) turbojet engines of unknown model and output power.
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