The Defense Department’s (DoD) Defense Advanced Research Project Agency (DARPA) component awarded a $94 million contract on July 5 to General Atomics Aeronautical Systems Inc. (GA-ASI) to finish the final phase of an agency project to create an armed air-launched drone system.

The project, titled LongShot Phase 3, will now move into the production of creating an air-launched unmanned air vehicle (UAV) that will be to employ multiple air-to-air weapons.

“The LongShot program changes the paradigm of air combat operations by demonstrating an unmanned, air-launched vehicle capable of employing current and advanced air-to-air weapons,” said DARPA program manager Lt. Col. Paul Calhoun in 2021.

The need for the system tracks with DoD’s aims for UAVs that will “extend engagement ranges, increase mission effectiveness, and reduce the risk to manned aircraft,” DARPA said.

“LongShot will disrupt traditional incremental weapon improvements by providing an alternative means of generating combat capability,” Lt. Col. Calhoun said in 2021.

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Jose Rascon
Jose Rascon
Jose Rascon is a MeriTalk Staff Reporter covering the intersection of government and technology.