General Atomics Aeronautical Systems, Inc. (GA-ASI) is set to embark on a transformative journey as it commences the flight-testing phase of the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency’s (DARPA) LongShot program.

Having clinched a competitive contract in 2020, GA-ASI has been diligently working to bring DARPA’s vision of disruptive air combat operations to fruition. This groundbreaking concept aims to revolutionize the capabilities of air-to-air combat by extending engagement ranges and enhancing the mission effectiveness of existing 4th generation fighters and air-to-air missiles.

The LongShot program represents a pivotal juncture in the evolution of unmanned aerial systems (UAS) and air combat strategies. With over three years of tireless efforts and iterative design refinements, GA-ASI is poised to propel this initiative towards the next phase – flight testing, scheduled for 2024. This phase will serve as a litmus test, validating the fundamental handling characteristics of the air vehicle and laying the groundwork for further development and testing.

Mike Atwood, Senior Director of Advanced Aircraft Programs at GA-ASI, exuded enthusiasm about the upcoming flight-testing phase, stating:

“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.”

The LongShot Vision

DARPA’s LongShot program was conceived as a response to the ever-evolving landscape of modern air combat. As 4th generation fighters and air-to-air missiles continue to serve as stalwarts of aerial warfare, there is an undeniable need to extend their capabilities. The LongShot program envisions a future where air vehicles can engage targets at extended ranges, delivering greater precision and mission effectiveness.