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Lockheed X-44A Breaks Cover

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posted on Mar, 23 2018 @ 03:43 PM
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Early last February, The War Zone published an exclusive story detailing what amounts to a "missing link" in Lockheed's flying-wing unmanned aircraft lineage, one that bridges the gap between the Skunk Works' abortive RQ-3 Darkstar from the 1990s and the RQ-170 Sentinel that appeared a decade later in Afghanistan. You can read all about what we know and what we don't about this previously highly classified experimental aircraft and why its existence is so important in our feature on the X-44A linked here. And now we are excited to announce that we have detailed images of the aircraft we described in our report to share with our readers.

Below are photos taken by our great friend and prolific SoCal aerospace photojournalist Matt Hartman, proprietor of Shorealonefilms.com. The images were taken this morning at the site of the Los Angeles County Air Show that will be underway this weekend in Lancaster, California.

The X-44A is being unveiled to the public there as part of the Skunk Works' 75th anniversary. Considering it is the biggest public aerospace event in the same community where the famed 'bleeding-edge' aerospace engineering unit is based, it is a perfect setting to show off a previously unknown and seemingly very important Skunk Works test article.


www.thedrive.com...


First off, and most obvious, was the designation was reused almost immediately after the cancellation of the original X-44, an F-22 derivative. That's something to keep an eye out for.

Secondly, you can see the ancestry of the RQ-170 VERY clearly in this bird. It's almost a straight line.

Thirdly, it raises the question of the Polecat and where it fit into everything. The Polecat was after the X-44, right?

Finally, the bird, while it has shaping for stealth, looks more like a demo bird rather than an operational one and lacks certain, obvious features.

Interesting, no?




posted on Mar, 23 2018 @ 05:20 PM
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Its an interesting piece to the overall puzzle. The article about the missing part of the whole UCAV/UAV was a good one and it would be prudent to keep things under wraps for sure. That being said its a pretty cool design. I'm no stealth engineer mind you but the camera in the nose does not look all that stealthy.

I can't till we can get more details about this interesting bird



posted on Mar, 23 2018 @ 05:33 PM
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It's undercarriage can't retract by the looks so I think your right on the test bed idea.

Does the exhaust give anything away, it's well hidden.

Nice to see it released though, makes you wonder why it was hidden!



posted on Mar, 23 2018 @ 05:35 PM
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a reply to: anzha

It's cool that they're breaking cover on *anything*, but I still can't help but be a little disappointed that it's barely more than a glorified Zagi for aerodynamics proof of concept work.



posted on Mar, 23 2018 @ 06:15 PM
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First off, and most obvious, was the designation was reused almost immediately after the cancellation of the original X-44, an F-22 derivative. That's something to keep an eye out for.

I still think it is just an inhouse Designation for inhouse demonstrator.



Thirdly, it raises the question of the Polecat and where it fit into everything. The Polecat was after the X-44, right?
Polecat was probably more about HALE?



posted on Mar, 23 2018 @ 06:15 PM
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Awesome..Scaled flight demonstrator...



posted on Mar, 23 2018 @ 06:20 PM
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a reply to: mightmight


I still think it is just an inhouse Designation for inhouse demonstrator.


Might be. Dunno. However, a thought, it might be they flipped around and told whomever was paying for the X-44 they could do it with a UAV for cheaper. Then they were cleared to keep the designation.



posted on Mar, 23 2018 @ 06:23 PM
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a reply to: anzha

Maybe but that thing doesnt look remotely like a demo for a unmanned long range strike platform.


edit on 23-3-2018 by mightmight because: (no reason given)



posted on Mar, 23 2018 @ 06:27 PM
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a reply to: mightmight

The X-44 was originally about tailless flight:


The Lockheed Martin X-44 MANTA (Multi-Axis No-Tail Aircraft) was a conceptual aircraft design by Lockheed Martin that has been studied by NASA and the U.S. Air Force. It was intended to test the feasibility of full yaw, pitch and roll authority without tailplanes (horizontal or vertical). Attitude control relies purely on 3D thrust vectoring. The aircraft design was derived from the F-22 Raptor and featured a stretched delta wing without tail surfaces.


en.wikipedia.org...



posted on Mar, 23 2018 @ 07:13 PM
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a reply to: anzha

That would do Petr Ufimtsev proud...




posted on Mar, 23 2018 @ 08:40 PM
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a reply to: mightmight

To follow-up:

The FB-22 is what you are thinking of. The USAF decided a new bomber is better than a strike plane derived from the F-22. We got the Next Generation Bomber out of that. Then it was canned and the Long Range Strike Bomber was born. That became our B-21.



posted on Mar, 24 2018 @ 02:41 AM
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a reply to: anzha
yub brain fart, my bad



posted on Mar, 24 2018 @ 10:20 AM
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a reply to: mightmight

Very minor one. No worries.

I've had brain farts so bad they were the equivalent of letting one off loud and proud during a quiet moment at the opera.



posted on Mar, 25 2018 @ 09:23 PM
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a reply to: anzha

www.flightglobal.com...

A little more info. The X-44A supposedly flew before the X-45.


Based on the designation and timing of first flight, Lockheed’s X-44A appears to pre-date the launch of a series of rival X-plane demonstrators, including Boeing’s X-45A that flew in 2002 and Northrop Grumman’s X-47A.



posted on Mar, 25 2018 @ 09:34 PM
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a reply to: anzha

What's especially interesting about this timeline for me is that this thing seems to suggest that they were working on what became the RQ-170 more or less concurrently with the MQ-9, which makes sense as they are fairly similar in payload, flight envelope, and, I'd imagine, cost.

Now, it makes me wonder what other UAVs or other platforms out there might have black counterparts...



posted on Mar, 25 2018 @ 09:48 PM
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a reply to: anzha

Probably looking at '97-98



posted on Mar, 25 2018 @ 09:49 PM
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cool UAV, cool article. ill have to look more into the UAV timeline and details.



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