Shape Changing Airplane Under Development for US Military
The United States military has contracted Northrop Grumman to deliver a specialized unpiloted aircraft by 2020. The first blueprint is due in late 2007, and the aircraft manufacturer is to complete an operable test model by 2011. The plane will be capable of achieving Mach speed as well as fly slowly for extended periods.
This makes the airplane unique because most aircraft specialize in one thing, much like a doctor, and can either go very fast or very slow, but not both. Engineers believe that the solution is a single wing that will pivot 60 degrees in a switchblade-like movement prior to entering Mach speed, then pivot back for slower flight. The versatility of this proposed aircraft will make it especially valuable for reconnaissance and surveillance work. The craft will be outfitted with equipment to help it perform these tasks. Additionally, it will be armed with munitions.