Phae (Penetrating High Altitude Endurance)

After the abolition of the Tier III Minus and ground demonstrators RQ-3A DarkStar U.S. Air Force officials have finally realized that working with various agencies and spy agencies is not a good thing. As shown by all the existing initiatives and programs since the early 80 years old, CIA, NRO, but also many other institutions unnecessarily created a commission for the USAF never be able to design and manage the development of simple, yet functional UAVs for long-term observation of the battlefield and the role of the type of ISR (Intelligence, Surveillance, Reconnaissance), or SIGINT (Signal Intelligence). If the USAF had a decisive share as in defining the requirements for DarkStar aircraft, its unit price climbed to the aforementioned 30-40000000 USD per piece and the row would not receive services prior to 2005. Therefore, the Air Force command decided to take matters into their own hands. The first indication given just weeks after the abolition of the Tier III Minus the commander of the Air Force F. Whitten Peters, who suggested that “secret USAF project could fill the gap left by the abolition of the DarkStar”. It also received a recommendation from the firms involved to nerozp´┐Ż\u0161\u0165ali their development teams, indicating that the prospect of a new contract. Boeing but it had the previous twenty years have clearly enough, so in summer 1999 release even his core development team, releasing all the other activities solely by Lockheed Martin. Apparently it wanted to concentrate its resources and development potential for the aircraft category sensorcraft. USAF taking it quite clear goal: to cancel unsatisfactory DarkStar program, to hold production machinery Global Hawk by one to two years and then seamlessly switch to the new development of more unmanned reconnaissance aircraft with stealth features that would be capable of a payload of 1 to 2 tons to operate over hostile territory and the risk of low frequency radar.

After winning Lockheed Martin JSF program in its ADP Skunk Works Department has lost its main field of competence and so began to mind which way to go on. It was not yet a difficult choice, since the manned programs for utilization of the F-22 and F-35 is the largest lag behind the competition resulted mainly in the field of UAVs of all categories, where companies Northrop Grumman and Boeing recruited a considerable advantage. This unfavorable situation has reversed an aggressive investment plan to right field unmanned technologies. The four key areas were considered category A aircraft mini-micro (where Lockheed has already supplied the means of its Sentry Owl), tactical machine category means Predator (which is already working on the concept LightStar P420), reconnaissance aircraft and unmanned HALE type of fighter UCAV. While in the latter, there was the biggest expansion of the projects progressive Sabre Warrior, URAV, Cormorant, Minion, Morphing Wing or maritime attack machine in the tactical reconnaissance aircraft was canceling the DarkStar blank space. Therefore it was decided to establish direct cooperation with the USAF as the main potential users of a series of studies of such equipment and to refinance its own resources development and production technology demonstrator. While the AFRL (Air Force Research Laboratory), this concept stated term Survivable HAE, Lockheed him provisionally named Phae (Penetrating High Altitude Endurance).

The basic idea was to build unmanned aircraft that the USAF or other users could also be used as replacement machines RQ-4A Global Hawk (at that time are still in trial operation) in opposed strongly airspace intrusions in secret over enemy territory. Although this is essentially the same objective as in the case of DarkStar, no new aircraft should have sufficient capacity and range, while using innovative, but readily available technology to be affordable and generally adapt to the requirements of the USAF. Elaborate on the concept began in 2002 when it was exploited knowledge of the ongoing military campaigns in Iraq and Afghanistan. They showed that the Global Hawk reconnaissance systems, while effective, but if it should target its mission well hindering airspace are likely to be the place of its operational scope or received. In the words of Deputy Director of the branch Skunk Works Neil felling, if a company decides to build such an aircraft should not take more than a year. Number of machines and their specific configuration will depend on the what the new role assigned to Air Force weapon systems. Both parties, however, opted for a cautious way to pilotless machines did not create direct competition aircraft flying Lockheed U-2. U.S. Air Force does not want to miss out on some unique opportunities otherwise largely outdated system and Lockheed Martin in turn, a stable source of income, continuing a decade. Weight of the payload so be between one to two tons and the total length of operational missions not exceed 36 hours, the aircraft operated by the same amount as U-2. In addition, another study was smaller means the type of minor, optimized for shorter missions of about eight hours.

According to the article from the magazine Aviation Week and Space Technology, published in July 2003, be derivative of the machine when DarkStar already deployed earlier operations in Iraq. According to unnamed representatives of the Air Force had one of the demonstrator, which was not foreseen in the series production. Compared with DarkStar machine should have a similar body, substantially improved control system, the same equipment and data lines, but the overall size and payload capacity was greater. Several pieces of aircraft and ground control position had a role in particular demonstrate the ability of such a system on a real battlefield, and also help to better define the requirements for the production version. At the same time there were reports that the U-2 pilots observed when their flights unidentified reconnaissance aircraft, operating largely uncoordinated with the rest of the Air Force. The only source of information, yet this article remains so difficult to verify its accuracy.