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Lockheed’s New STOL Airlifter Design

by John Reed on September 15, 2011

Well done to Secret Projects forum for spotting this nugget that everyone else missed. This stealthy looking model plane is Lockheed Martin’s concept for what anext-generation super shot take-off and landing tactical airlifter would look like.

The four-engine plane (though I only see two in these pictures), called the Speed Agile Concept Demonstrator, is Lockheed’s part of an Air Force Research Lab effort to develop designs for a STOL tactical transport jet capable of operating from short and unprepared landing strips around the world. Boeing is apparently also in on the effort.

The 23-percent scale model, equipped with Williams FJ-44 turbofan engines, is being tested in the world’s largest wind tunnel at the Air Force’s Arnold Engineering and Development Center to see how well the craft’s hybrid powered lift design performs. Hybrid powered lift means the plane combines a low drag airframe with very simple mechanical assembly leading to reduced weight and better aerodynamics, according to the AFRL.

Steve Trimble at The DEW Line points out that the last time the Air Force moved to develop a STOL cargo jet it eventually ended up with the C-17 Globemaster — a strategic airlifter that can land in some pretty tight spots.

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{ 34 comments… read them below or add one }

halcyon_ September 15, 2011 at 12:24 pm

Wow, nice looking aircraft.

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Pandaa September 15, 2011 at 12:48 pm

looks like the hunter killers from terminator salvation

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Nick September 15, 2011 at 12:56 pm

Look small. Cargo capacity perhaps in the middle of an v-22 and a c-130

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A. Nonymous September 15, 2011 at 1:07 pm

It's a 23-percent scale model, not a full-scale aircraft. It wouldn't surprise me if the full scale vehicle were in the C-27/C-160/C-130 payload class…

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Mehmnoch September 21, 2011 at 8:37 am

lol
It's a model, not at the 1:1 scale

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Morty September 15, 2011 at 1:57 pm

I don't think we need a new air craft if we could keep our F-22's and F-35's in the air

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Big Guy September 15, 2011 at 2:32 pm

Are you trying to be stupid? This is an air lift design, not a fighter.

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Tad September 15, 2011 at 3:21 pm

After Sec Gates speech at the AF Academy in which he told the cadets they'd better get used to piloting cargo planes, the AF has had to come up with something for retention and recruitment. And this thing sure likes like it would fit the bill, it is very cool looking.

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Bob September 15, 2011 at 4:34 pm

Erm… this is unmanned.

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StageM September 15, 2011 at 5:21 pm

Erm… 'tisn't.

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Will September 15, 2011 at 3:26 pm

Where's the landing gear go? A pair might fold into that bulge near the nose, but there would need to be a 2nd pair farther back.

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QuiAudetAdipiscitur September 15, 2011 at 3:53 pm

Very reminiscent of the Luftwaffe's flying wing…

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Matt September 15, 2011 at 5:12 pm

If, and admittably it is a big if, the thing is stealthy (not just looks like it) that could be a game changer. 1) Parachuting into enemy territory in large numbers could be possible again. 2) Supplies could be flown to advanced bases w/less risk of being shot down. 3) If this was large enough to be a tanker (or other variently of planes designed from cargo) super long range radar guided missles (like China’s) certainly loss some capablity as a deterence; fighters could refuel within the missles’ range and strike deeper into the target nation.

Now if it was supersonic, stealth, and STOL… It would clearly be too pricey to be practical :(

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steve p. September 15, 2011 at 6:09 pm

Although it only has two intakes, it looks like they do indeed feed two engines apiece.

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Stephen N Russell September 15, 2011 at 8:34 pm

Need more Airlifters to replace C130s, C5s alone from 60s.

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OMEGATALON September 15, 2011 at 8:37 pm

This aircraft is supposed to be for special tactical operations and if produced will be in limited numbers because the aircraft would be used by military personnel like the Navy Seals; but this aircraft appears to assist in moving personnel and/or equipment out of an area since you can drop large pieces of equipment to a specific location using gps guided parachutes.

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Letsallbefriends September 16, 2011 at 5:54 am

Would it be affordable to develop a whole new aircraft for a low-volume user? I think if they build it, they'll have to use it more widely, as they do the C130.

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Riceball September 16, 2011 at 2:03 pm

Who are the Navy Seals? I think the Navy is still experimenting with dolphins but I don't think they have seals anymore. What they do have are SEALs as in Sea, Air, & Land.

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Tri-ring September 15, 2011 at 9:25 pm

The life expectancy of the engines would be VERY short if they were landing a plane like that on unprepared landing strips.

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Chimp September 16, 2011 at 3:37 am

First thing I thought too.

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Dave Marks April 3, 2014 at 9:37 am

I was thinking the same thing. F22 and 777 already have large vacuum cleaners that suck the tarmac clean. Putting the engine nacelles above the fuselage behind the leading edge and cockpit would reduce RCS looking up and allow for some STOL properties of the coanda effect.

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blight September 15, 2011 at 9:29 pm

Wonder why the engines are mounted down low. Otherwise, I would've thought it echoed the YC-14. Vague echoes of the Horten 229 (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Horten229-SDASM.jpg) or the vaporware A-12 (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/McDonnell_Douglas_A-12_Avenger_II)

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marcaussure September 16, 2011 at 5:42 am

is it just me or the back of this plane looks like a boeing v-22 osprey?

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Dfens September 16, 2011 at 7:26 am

I wonder what kind of unobtanium they are going to make the fuselage out of so it doesn't crack like an egg due to sonic fatigue?

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crackedlenses September 16, 2011 at 9:29 am

I'd ask the Nav'i if I were you….

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pilotpaul September 16, 2011 at 9:17 am

Those low positioned jet engines look like they would be vulnerable to foreign object damage (FOD) common in short, unprepared runways.

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David Smith September 17, 2011 at 11:36 pm

Every things all nice and stealthy EXCEPT those ginormous, even at 23%, turbofan faces.

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Tenn Slim September 19, 2011 at 9:03 am

HOORAH for the LM Stealth folks.
Once again, into the Design Breach.
Semper Fi

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nicodem September 21, 2011 at 10:57 am

Like pilotpaul, this plane will definetly not survive to unprepared runways.

It cannot replace a C130 or an A400M

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Prodozul September 15, 2011 at 7:33 pm
Ralph September 16, 2011 at 8:32 am

You can use tinyurl.com to shorten long URLs.

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elportonative77 September 15, 2011 at 8:09 pm

Gotta love concept art.

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LanceKant September 16, 2011 at 10:48 am

Sorry, that just looks a bit unpractical and… stupid.

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elportonative77 September 16, 2011 at 6:06 pm

Thank you Ralph.

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