Lockheed-Martin unveiled the Speed ​​Racer, a connected effector intended to “light up” the F-35

Lately, there has been a lot of talk about “Loyal Wingman” type drones, with characteristics similar to a crewed combat aircraft. The US Air Force is also very interested in it, with its Skyborg program, in the context of which it is currently evaluating the XQ-58 Valkyrie from Kratos and the MQ-28 Ghost Bat from Boeing Australia.

However, Lockheed-Martin defends another approach. At least this is the case of its “Skunk Works” division, in charge of “special” programs entrusted by the Pentagon. Thus, last week, its director John Clark, unveiled the “Carrera” project, for which the American group paid 100 million dollars. [sur des fonds propres] in order to develop different technologies that may be useful for collaborative air combat.

Thus, the “Skunk Works” division started from the premise that a “Loyal Wingman” type drone would not offer “much operational value” while being “not cheap”. Hence the concept of the “Speed ​​Racer”, a kind of low-cost connected effector [moins de 2 millions de dollars]capable of carrying out missions while being autonomous, thanks to artificial intelligence algorithms.

Associated with the F-35 fighter-bomber [produit par Lockheed-Martin], such devices could be used to decoy an enemy air defense, to carry out reconnaissance and/or intelligence, or even to carry out electronic warfare missions. Clearly, the Speed ​​Racer, capable of evolving in a swarm, would play the role of “scout”.

The name of the project, “Carrera”, which takes into account other aspects [intelligence artificielle, capteurs, liaisons, etc], is inspired by the car designed by Porsche, the idea being to suggest a “fast program”. Because, indeed, the first tests of this system should be carried out by the end of this year.

First, “captive transport” tests will be conducted [le type d’avion qui emportera les drones n’a pas été précisé]. Then the Speed ​​Racer will make its first flight. Finally, it will then be a question of involving an F-35, in order to validate this concept. “The effort is more ambitious than simply proving that fighter jets and drones can operate in the same airspace,” insisted the director of Skunk Works.

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