Lockheed’s New STOL Airlifter Design

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.

  • halcyon_

    Wow, nice looking aircraft.

  • Pandaa

    looks like the hunter killers from terminator salvation

  • Nick

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

    • A. Nonymous

      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…

    • Mehmnoch

      It’s a model, not at the 1:1 scale

  • Morty

    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

    • Big Guy

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

  • Tad

    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.

    • Bob

      Erm… this is unmanned.

      • StageM

        Erm… ’tisn’t.

  • Will

    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.

  • QuiAudetAdipiscitur

    Very reminiscent of the Luftwaffe’s flying wing…

  • Matt

    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 :(

  • steve p.

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

  • Stephen N Russell

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


    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.

    • Letsallbefriends

      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.

    • Riceball

      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.

  • Tri-ring

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

    • Chimp

      First thing I thought too.

    • Dave Marks

      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.

  • blight

    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)

  • marcaussure

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

  • Dfens

    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?

    • crackedlenses

      I’d ask the Nav’i if I were you….

  • pilotpaul

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

  • David Smith

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

  • Tenn Slim

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

  • nicodem

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

    It cannot replace a C130 or an A400M

  • Phillipp

    Tiens je pensais justement faire un post identique à celui-ci