It was a distributed propulsion demonstrator to specifically test how far they could drop the acoustic signature of an ISR UAV in that class. That's
it. X-designation because it was demonstrating those two things. Operationally useful endurance with distributed propulsion. Validation/minimization
of the expected acoustic properties.
No idea personally whether it or something like it made it to fruition. I doubt it, because most of the work desired for demonstration would/could
have been done just in acoustic ranges, not just the flying range at White Sands. This testing actually happened. Flight tests and White Sands work, I
don't know. Again, I suspect not, but *shrug*
Basically, there are many places in the world where a Fury-class UAV would be more useful if one could not hear it. All the subsequent work on the
Fury, makes me think GHO didn't go far, if anywhere. Fury work would be largely redundant.
Right now, if you've never heard a Predator or Reaper from the ground, they sound like a buzz or hum. The Pakis call them the "machar" (mosquitoes).
So when the baddies in Sandistan are out and up to no good, they know the hum of the mosquitoes is a good clue to make themselves scarce and/or look
like they are doing something innocent. At the least, they are alert and more careful. A quiet drone would give operators a better chance of finding
bad guys doing bad guy things. Like police cars cruising a neighborhood, sometimes being very noticeable is great. Other times, not so much. Annoying
everybody in towns and villages, literally buzzing them, and letting them know they're under the microsope 24/7, isn't great for winning hearts and
Beyond purely military applications, the public at large is more accepting of things that don't annoyingly announce their presence, wildlife may be
spooked, etc, etc So there are clearly applications if the technology works and is affordable.
Again, no idea where it went if anywhere, but I suspect it's a dead end. The fact that it'd be real, real easy to not fulfill a FOIA request on an
active and "quiet" (pun) program, only adds to that suspicion. IARPA (and not AFRL) was/is running the program. Basically DARPA, but for intelligence
community, not the DOD.
ETA: GHO would have used a net-recovery similar to the Fury's and was to be compatible with SideArm. No landing gear.
edit on 31-3-2020 by
RadioRobert because: (no reason given)