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The Skunk Works - Shapeshifter

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posted on Nov, 6 2005 @ 11:45 AM
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By Nick Cook JDW Aerospace Consultant
London

It seems inconceivable that the entity that established itself as one of the foremost aerospace pioneers of the last half-century should end up on the sidelines of the UAV and UCAV revolution, yet, on the face of it, this is where the Skunk Works is: on the outside, looking in. For the past few years, as J-UCAS has gathered momentum, ADP officials have let it be known that the Skunk Works has not been standing still - that there are advanced UAV/UCAV concepts on the drawing board at ADP, many of which are under government consideration. A number of these may have progressed further in the 'black' world - there are persistent rumours that they have. However, it was only in June, at the Paris Air Show, that the Skunk Works/ADP was able to provide hard details of a real, live project: the Morphing UAV.

The Morphing UAV is a demonstrator for an unmanned aircraft that, in its developed form, can span intelligence-gathering and attack missions by changing its shape in flight. To date, in the high-end, sophisticated unmanned aircraft market, UAVs and UCAVs broadly fall into two camps: high- and medium-altitude long-endurance types for surveillance, and UCAVs for attack. With its ability to 'morph' from an extended-wing, loitering configuration to a squat, agile, high dash-speed platform - a transition that takes place in less than 30 seconds - the Morphing UAV allows a single vehicle to perform multiple mission profiles. To reinforce ADP's message and add weight to its conviction that the UAV/UCAV market is still in transition, and thus still open to competition, the Skunk Works' Vice President and General Manager, Frank Cappuccio, went to the Paris Air Show to convey it personally.

Cappuccio is bound by a different set of rules from most engineering management executives because of what the Skunk Works does. There are times, for example, when the US government prevents him from travelling abroad. However, Cappuccio's message in Paris was clear. "I personally believe there's going to be two or three generations of UAVs before we [the aerospace and defence industry] get it right," he told JDW in an extensive, exclusive interview.

From www.janes.com..." target="_blank" class="postlink" rel="nofollow">Jane's.

Pretty interesting idea!




posted on Nov, 6 2005 @ 01:13 PM
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is this threads purpose, just for your opinion.


Any new info you have on it.

Lockheeds Morphing Aircraft has never been black, it is another far out concept that Darpa is funding to make it a reality.

I like it, it basically would immediatly take over the X-45C's job and the X-47B's job, and at the same time would be better at both of there jobs.




posted on Nov, 6 2005 @ 02:01 PM
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Murcielago
While I frequently agree with your posts, on this one I must disagree...


Originally posted by Murcielago
is this threads purpose, just for your opinion.


ALthough this subject has been covered on many other threads, it is not Midav's opinion as it is a quote taken from a Nick Cook article in "Janes Defense Weekly".


Originally posted by Murcielago

Lockheeds Morphing Aircraft has never been black...

We do not know that Lockheed does not have morphing uav black projects ongoing.


Originally posted by Murcielago
...it basically would immediatly take over the X-45C's job and the X-47B's job, and at the same time would be better at both of there jobs.


Actually it probably would not, it would have a special function same as the other UAVs.
The F-14 did not take away from the need for the F-18, Prowler, etc.
The function of each has a direct link to the capabilities of each, such as stealthiness, loiter time, speed, payload size, manueverability, etc.



posted on Nov, 6 2005 @ 04:48 PM
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I had a chance to examine Lockheed Martin's two Morphing Aircraft Structures (MAS) prototypes when they were undergoing initial trials at Edwards Air Force Base. They were small enough to fit on my desk top and with their black and yellow paint job looked rather like bumblebees.

I thought the LM approach to morphing was elegantly simple: just two hinges in the wing at root and mid-span. I was very much looking forward to seeing them fly, but both vehicles were damaged during ground runs. I don't know if they have since made another attempt.



posted on Nov, 6 2005 @ 04:55 PM
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Great...

More stuff for China to steal.



posted on Nov, 6 2005 @ 10:41 PM
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If it's been posted before then my apologies. I just found this article interesting.

It may sound silly but reminds me of when I was a kid watching Macross.

Yes, I realize that this tech may not be as advanced as the above mentioned cartoon, but having something that can transform itself would have a lot of advantages from longer loiter time to higher speeds to increased maneuverability.



posted on Nov, 7 2005 @ 12:02 AM
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Originally posted by intelgurl


Originally posted by Murcielago

Lockheeds Morphing Aircraft has never been black...

We do not know that Lockheed does not have morphing uav black projects ongoing.


Originally posted by Murcielago
...it basically would immediatly take over the X-45C's job and the X-47B's job, and at the same time would be better at both of there jobs.

Actually it probably would not, it would have a special function same as the other UAVs.
The F-14 did not take away from the need for the F-18, Prowler, etc.
The function of each has a direct link to the capabilities of each, such as stealthiness, loiter time, speed, payload size, manueverability, etc.


I was refering to this particular morphing project, they could have some black morphing project...but hopfully it doesn't look and operate the same...I hate it when people waste time doing double the amount of R&D just because the people who allready did all the work and spent all the money kept it a secret. But I feel that this happens a lot.

and I do believe that this craft would take the job from the 45 & 47...the only reason they are different is because ones for the carriers, so it had to be stronger, foldable wings, etc. But you can beef up any airframe, and the MAV could fold its wings on the carrier just like it does when going supersonic...something neither of the 45 or 47 can do.



posted on Nov, 7 2005 @ 02:38 AM
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I think that the first few generations of UCAVs will be minimal cost machines. As Frank Cappuccio says, it will take a few stabs to get right, so why pump money into producing an expensive variation that will be limited in capabilities anyway.

Purely in my opinion, the USAF may go down the cheapest route for 'wide-scale' production, and let the various manufacturers learn from each iteration, and then shell out on a more expensive design they can have more confidence in. It would also fit with the transition resistant mentality of most defence forces.



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