Do you think drones are the future of warfare? If the answer is no then we would implore you to think again. The design for a flying wing tail sitter drone has been unveiled by the Northrop Grumman Corporation in the US. What is so special about this drone? It is capable of landing anywhere!
The drone, as per company, doesn’t require any runway to land is capable of landing anywhere on its tail and the design is part of Northrop’s proposal for the Defence Advanced Research Project Agency’s (DARPA) Tern program.
DARPA has plans of signing a contract in January for building and flying a full-scale prototype from a decommissioned navy ship or a barge as per Chris Hernandez who is the senior vice-president of research, technology and advanced design for Northrop. The design by Northrop features a set of large counter-rotating propellers that cover almost two-thirds of a roughly 9.14m – diameter wingspan and it carries sensors and weapons under its wings. Northrop has not released any pictures or drawings of the Tern concept, but it did display a model of the aircraft for journalists on a tour in Los Angeles.
Daniel Patt of DARPA who is heading the program said, “Effective 21st-century warfare requires the ability to conduct airborne intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR) and strike mobile targets anywhere, around the clock. Current technologies, however, have their limitations.”
The design is a flashback to the manned Lockheed XFV-1 concept from the early 1950s that also sported a tail-sitter configuration. However, Northrop has imparted an engine with a pure flying wing design to the original concept. DARPA is looking for an unmanned vehicle that is capable of operating from DDG-class ships or smaller while being able to carry a 272kg payload to a distance of 1,670km while also being able to land on a rolling deck in Sea State 5 conditions.