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General Atomics Poised to Deliver on DARPA Contract

LongShot Program Nears Flight-Test Phase

General Atomics Aeronautical Systems Inc. (GA-ASI), the U.S. energy and defense concern, is preparing to commence the flight-testing phase of the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency’s (DARPA) LongShot program.

Undertaken in 2021, LongShot seeks to develop and demonstrate an air-launched Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) capable of carrying and employing air-to-air weapons. In June 2023, DARPA awarded a Phase-three contract to General Atomics for the manufacture and 2025 flight demonstration of an air-launched, flying, and potentially recoverable missile carrier. If successful, the concept—conceived of by the wizards and mad-scientists locked away in DARPA’s secret laboratories—stands to significantly increase the engagement-range and mission-effectiveness of extant fourth-generation fighter aircraft and air-to-air missiles.

Over the last three years, GA-ASI has posited and vetted numerous vehicle designs conducive to LongShot’s aims. The company will settle upon and fully-develop a final architecture prior to the 2024 commencement of a flight-testing campaign intended to validate basic vehicle handling characteristics. Moreover, subject testing will lay the foundation for follow-on development and inform future testing efforts.

GA-ASI senior director of advanced aircraft programs Mike Atwood stated: “We are extremely excited to get in the air. Flight-testing will validate digital designs that have been refined throughout the course of the project. General Atomics is dedicated to leveraging this process to rapidly deliver innovative unmanned capabilities for national defense.”

General Atomics Aeronautical Systems is an affiliate of General Atomics, the San Diego-based technology concern specializing in the research, development, and fielding of technologies germane to nuclear fission and nuclear fusion energy. The company also produces airborne sensors and advanced electric, electronic, wireless, and laser technologies, as well as battle-tested Remotely Piloted Aircraft (RPA) such as the MQ-1 Predator, MQ-1C Gray Eagle, MQ-20 Avenger, and the ubiquitous MQ-9 Reaper platforms. Collectively, GA-ASI RPA have logged upwards of eight-million flight-hours.



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