Lockheed Martin P-175 Polecat

Project P-175 was created to promote development and reduce occupational risks for future unmanned aircraft type applied with HALE technologies low zistie\u013enosti. The main objectives were the optimization of the machine concept flying wing with a large aspect ratio for the mission in a very high altitude (which is not at all easy), a practical demonstration of new manufacturing processes, minimizing component count and design units in the aircraft (along with a reduction in standard hours of production and maintenance) and practical tests of the new system, control the bending dimensional wings in flight in order to positively influence the laminar flow as well as overall project management with a very short time from the initial design after prototype flight testing. At the turn of 2002 and 2003, representatives of Lockheed Martin decided to start on the program’s own internal corporate resources and will also include pilotless technology demonstrator. He did not have the equipment and advanced sensor was not designed for mass production, although it certainly everyone secretly hopes aerospace manufacturer. Official work on the project, scheduled as only eighteen months , began in March 2003. Estimated cost of development and production amounted to $ 27 million, which were part of a massive investment in Lockheed Martin unmanned machines that had to restore the balance between the aircraft manufacturers in this field. Such a short timetable, however, did not catch at all without extensive prior training and research. I am giving to the attention of the said 18 months, along with the intended use of two engines FJ44-3E Williams. It reminds you of something? Yes, these characteristics W570 ended description of the machine, developed by Loral, which in 1996 purchased by Lockheed Martin …

According to the intentions of the creators, the basic concept had to be used for new programs bomber LRS (Long Range Strike) now exiting the notion of NGB (Next Generation Bomber) with 6800 kg load capacity Operating radius arms at 3700 km and also after treatment as a platform for the survey Unmanned spy aircraft USAF HAE type survivable. It was considered and its put out to the U.S. Navy BAMS (Broad Area Surveillance Martime). Potential participation in the LRS, however, was questionable, since the company Lockheed-Martin for this purpose vehemently advocated supersonic unmanned combat aircraft with a speed of Mach 2.5, arguing to seven times more likely to survive compared with subsonic means a five-fold greater efficiency compared to flying tactical bomber FB-22. Project P-175 and still remained only in the position of demonstrator for future unmanned reconnaissance aircraft with stealth characteristics, operating at very high altitudes.

The basic concept is the result of the previous mix of projects and proposals from virtually Aars to DarkStar. With its concept has the potential to very low radar reflectivity, the surface but not to the objectives of the program and also because of the cost applied to any special coatings or materials that absorb radar radiation. Demonstrator is made of 98 percent of composite materials using a new low temperature technology, the only remaining metal chassis, engines and avionics. The entire trunk was folded in less than 200 parts. The wing span of 27.4 meters are flexible supports that allow the bending up and down, which improves the laminar flow especially at high altitudes. It should be noted that so far no one has not used the concept of flying wings for a means to be a real move at altitudes over 20 km. Propulsion is provided by two Williams International FJ44 engines 3E. Maximum takeoff weight is around 4086 kg, which is about 450 kg payload. It was assumed that in the later stages of the aircraft could be tested electro-sensors and radar type conforming to the SAR antenna. The name means “Pole Cat” invented one of the engineers, which wanted to illustrate the fact that this configuration has spent the late nineties, a lot of time on the poles for the measurement of radar reflectivity. The name is assumed, and later became the official. Noteworthy is also probably the first public use of the new logo Skunk Works, which was placed on the cap front undercarriage leg. He adds that the following photo is not unlike the images used in magazines retouched, so you can see the number 864 and the inscription “Howard is my co-pilot.”

Polecam was ready for first flight in 2004, but the testing started up in late 2005. The existence of the project was publicly unveiled in mid-2006 to the Farnborough Air Show in. During the first two flight tests at Nellis Test Range in Nevada was reached 4570 m height. This was the maximum allowed by the safety margin at the site. Polecam Therefore, in September 2006 moved to another test for the Yucca Lake to be able to start flights at high altitudes. In tests in the coming year should be checked three times backed autonomous flight control system, able to take off, land and carry out pre-programmed mission without the intervention of ground operators. In this way it could be closer to the vision of Air Force, according to which in future could be up to four unmanned aerial vehicles operated simultaneously by one operator only.

18th December 2006, Polecam crashed when tested again at the Nellis Test Range, the damage was beyond reparability. The official cause of accidents is more than stupid: random irreversible failure of a safety break the ground segment of the flight, which caused the activation of an automatic safety system interruption in case of failure of the flight. Human words - the operator touched the switch that activated the security system, control shutdown and deactivation systems in the aircraft, which then fell from the sky and was completely destroyed. This system serves as a backup in case the aircraft would become ungovernable, and this might lead to the abandonment of the test area. Information about the incident, however, be made public until mid-2007, largely as a result of increased media attention on the fate of the project. He was finally arrested in February 2007. In the mean time spent by Lockheed-Martin primarily for flight tests next 5 million USD. The project was essentially a kind of rebirth of ideas and works carried out within programs Aars and Tier III, but with a modern and advanced technologies. Lessons learned and assist in the development of other aircraft, especially when operating RQ-170 type, with which, however, directly related Polecam.

Skunk Works unveils secret Polecat UAV 
By Nick Cook JDW Aerospace Consultant 
Additional reporting 
by Bill Sweetman, IDR Aerospace and Technology Editor 

The Lockheed Martin Skunk Works revealed on 19 July that it has secretly built and flown a large, high-altitude unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) that has been designed to test a range of new technologies critical to what the company foresees as a \u2018third-generation\u2019 of unmanned platforms that will emerge in the US in the next decade.

Nicknamed Polecat, the high-altitude flying wing demonstrator was launched in March 2003 with USD27 million of internal Lockheed Martin funding and was completed 18 months later. It did not fly, however, until last year. Its key feature is an advanced laminar flow wing that confers a blend of high aerodynamic efficiency with a very low observable (VLO) radar cross-section.

According to Frank Cappuccio, the head of Skunk Works, the Polecat demonstration programme was configured to give Lockheed Martin an insight into three areas critical to next-generation UAVs: reducing the manufacturing costs associated with new, largely composite airframe designs; lowering the capital cost of UAV manufacture through advanced tooling techniques; and integrating a fully autonomous flight control and mission-handling system that will allow future UAVs to conduct their missions, from take-off to landing, without the intervention of human operators.

Polecat technology could lead to two operational vehicles, according to Cappuccio: an intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR) vehicle with a U-2-like (1,800 kg) sensor payload and a 24-hour endurance; or a long-range strike aircraft with a 6,800 kg payload and a 3,700 km operational radius. He added, however, that Lockheed Martin is still pushing the idea of a supersonic UCAS for the LRS mission, citing studies that show that it would be seven times more survivable than a subsonic UCAS and five times better than the FB-22 bomber derivative of the F-22 fighter.

Polecat is part of a concerted, and largely hidden, technology demonstration programme launched by Lockheed Martin at the beginning of the decade in a bid to redress the industrial balance, after Boeing, Northrop and General Atomics forged what then looked like an unassailable lead to develop first- and second-generation UAVs and UCAVs.

Lockheed Martin Skunk Works is in the UAV race with Polecat demonstrator 
By Amy Butler 
07/23/2006 09:48:18 PM 


Lockheed Martin’s newly unveiled Polecat unmanned aerial system demonstrator is designed to explore the aerodynamic characteristics of the tailless flying wing design at higher altitudes than attempted to date, and possibly feed technologies into future aircraft for the U.S. Air Force.

The company’s Advanced Development Programs sector, commonly called the Skunk Works, had been rumored to be working on a secret unmanned aerial system (UAS) project for years. And, company officials are lifting the veil in an attempt to quell critics who have said Lockheed Martin has been too focused on its manned fighter business–with multibillion-dollar F-22 and F-35 programs–thereby neglecting future opportunities with unmanned systems.

With the Polecat prototype, the company is aiming at Boeing’s and Northrop Grumman’s turf–developing combat UAS for the U.S. military and, possibly, the U.S. Navy’s yet-to-bedefined Broad Area Maritime Surveillance program.

Skunk Works, noted for rapid prototyping and such technological feats as the high-flying U-2 and speedy SR-71 reconnaissance aircraft, selected a tailless “Horton” wing design first used by Germany in World War II. Without vertical structures and a tail, the 90-ft. wingspan vehicle is inherently low-observable but it has not been “coated” with radar-reflecting materials because it is not expected to fly operationally.

A new “twisting strut” inside the Polecat’s wings is designed to flex in air and improve the laminar flow over its swept wings, propelling the UAV to high altitudes. Aircraft such as the straight-winged U-2 have traditionally behaved like gliders but lack a survivable design. “No one has ever developed in this configuration a high lift-to-drag ratio, and we are going to do it higher than anyone has done it,” says Skunk Works Executive Vice President Frank Cappuccio. The engine inlets (see the cover photo) are designed to deflect radar energy away from the engines, masking some signature, although Frank Mauro, Lockheed Martin’s director of unmanned systems, admits more work is needed to improve low observability.

Intended to soar to a 60,000-ft. altitude and higher, Lockheed Martin has two main mission areas in mind for Polecat: the Air Force’s yet-to-be defined Long Range Strike (LRS) system and a next-generation intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance aircraft. So far, the flying wing has not flown that high. Mauro says the B-2’s 45,000-50,000-ft. operating area is the Horton’s ceiling to date. “The air gets pretty thin above those levels. Our main objective is to determine how effective that wing concept is at that altitude so we’ll have better data if we should [develop] something that requires that design.” Cappuccio says that in the coming months engineers are devising sensors for Polecat that are part of a contrail suppression system. Contrails often give U-2s away despite altitude. So, Skunk Works wants to detect conditions conducive to contrails and avoid these areas.

During its first two flights at the Nellis Test Range, Nev., last year, Polecat reached 15,000 ft., a limit set by the portion of the range where it was flying. Officials are now moving operations to another area of the proving ground. Cappuccio, who unveiled Polecat to the media during a briefing at the Farnborough air show last week, says high-altitude flights are expected as soon as September.

Powered by two FJ44-3E Williams International engines, Polecat has a 9,000-lb. gross takeoff weight. A bay nestled between the two engines can accommodate 1,000 lb. of sensors or weapons. Skunk Works is negotiating with various sensor makers for potential demonstrations, possibly conformal radar arrays. Cappuccio adds that he wants to experiment with conformal antennae on the vehicle.

Engineers designed Polecat using 98% composites, aside from landing gear, avionics and engines, and it consists of fewer than 200 parts–all to bring costs down. They used an innovative, low-temperature composite curing process for the vehicle. Normally cured at 350F in an autoclave, the new technique relies on a 150F curing process that eliminates the need for investing in autoclaves. The composites are then post-cured. These are further iterations of processes used in the F-22, F-35 and Joint Air-to-Surface Standoff Missile programs.

Mauro says that UAS costs can be further cut by reducing manpower required for operation. Unmanned aircraft have been vulnerable in the Pentagon’s cutthroat budget environment because they remain as pricey as their manned counterparts.

Flight tests in 2007 will explore a triple-redundant flight control system and software to “leapfrog” existing UAS autonomy capabilities. Polecat is designed to take off and land autonomously. The government is already pursuing a system whereby four UAS vehicles can be monitored by one person. However, rules of engagement require many more looks at targets prior to engagement by a UAS. Although Mauro acknowledges the military’s doctrine will have to catch up, the company is working on an autonomous target ID capability.

In response to criticism that Skunk Works has not been pursuing UAS technology, Mauro says, “We’ve taken some hard shots in the past three or four years that [we were] not in the UAS game, and there is a perception that our future is at risk. We are putting our money where our mouth is.” The demonstrator was ready for first flight in 2004, 18 months after the go-ahead to begin work and at a cost of $27 million to the company. Another $5 million has been spent to continue work since then, Mauro notes, adding that the funds are a “significant” portion of Lockheed’s aeronautics research investment.

While Boeing and Northrop Grumman have each reaped technical and financial benefits of the respective X-45 and X-47 Joint Unmanned Combat Air System demo programs, Lockheed Martin lacked government support. Mauro admits Skunk Works is playing catch-up in some respects, and that Polecat is not meant to be a product in itself but rather to demonstrate technologies such as autonomous flight and the use of new composite techniques and adhesives. “Transformation was the key word for the period and UASs were a mechanism for transformation. We were, effectively, on the outside looking in relative to our participation on J-UCAS.”

But freedom from government involvement has also worked in Polecat’s favor. By contrast, J-UCAS, with operational assessments planned to begin in Fiscal 2008, has suffered from fitful funding and shifting requirements. USAF pulled out last year in favor of ongoing studies on future strike concepts.

Most immediately, Polecat could also contribute to a design that would encroach on the duel between Northrop Grumman’s Global Hawk and a souped-up General Atomics Aeronautical Systems Predator, called Mariner, for the U.S. Navy’s Broad Area Maritime Surveillance program. It could raise questions about the future of Lockheed Martin’s partnership with General Atomics on Mariner. If the Navy decides it wants a low-observable aircraft, Lockheed Martin would be relieved of its partnering obligation to General Atomics, Cappuccio says.

Polecat Crash Sets Back LM UAV efforts
Mar 16, 2007

Lockheed Martin is back at square one with unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) flight-testing after the December crash of its P-175 Polecat demonstrator, which is only now being disclosed.

The aircraft went down on Dec. 18, 2006 at the Nevada Test and Training Range, according to U.S. Air Force officials who run the range. An “irreversible unintentional failure in the flight termination ground equipment, which caused the aircraft’s automatic fail-safe flight termination mode to activate” is cited by Lockheed Martin as the cause of the crash.

The company developed the aircraft for about $30 million using internal research and development funding in an effort to experiment with UAV technology while rivals Northrop Grumman and Boeing continue work on their armed UAV demonstrators for the Pentagon. However, company officials kept it a secret, claiming it was classified even though a customer has not been named. The crash was kept secret until this week, when media began making queries about Polecat?s status. The aircraft was beginning a new phase of flights largely focused on validating the flying wing design at altitudes in excess of 60,000 feet.

Polecat, however, never flew above 15,000 feet. Lockheed Martin officials also planned to use the aircraft to experiment with new composites manufacturing techniques, twisting strut designs to produce slightly morphing wings and ground-based vehicle and flight control work. A company statement says officials did learn from work in these areas despite the crash.

Lockheed Martin says the flight termination system “performed exactly as expected,” causing the crash.


General characteristics

• Capacity: 1,000 lb (450 kg) of weapons or sensors • Length: (100 ft) • Wingspan: 90 ft (27.44 m) • Height: () • Loaded weight: 9,000 lb (4,090 kg) • Powerplant: 2 × Williams FJ44-3E turbofan, 3,000 lb f (13.38 kN) each


• Service ceiling: 65,000 ft (19,817 m) • Endurance: 4 hours