Cormorant Unmanned Aircraft
Deployed and Recovered from Submerged Submarine
Thanks to our friend, J.P. Malone USN (Ret.) for sending this information about the Cormorant from Lockheed Martin, the developer. Here's another addition to the long line of superlative fighting machines to come out of their 'Skunk Works' division, which includes the F-104 Starfighter, U-2 Dragon Lady, SR-71 Blackbird, F-117A Nighthawk, F-22 Raptor and JSF F-35 Lightning II.
Lockheed Martin is developing an unmanned aircraft that can be released from the ballistic missile tube of a Trident Submarine -- 150 feet underwater. It can rise out of the depths, spread its wings and fly above the sea. Nuclear-armed submarines, once a cornerstone of the Cold war deterrent, may soon find a new 21st century mission. Floating to the surface, its wings unfold, booster rockets fire, and it is airborne. Called the Cormorant, this jet-powered autonomous aircraft could act as a spy plane or deliver firepower in a surgical strike.
4 minute video
When the mission is over, the Cormorant receives computer signals from the submarine that can direct it to a rendezvous point. Landing back in the sea, a tether is connected to the Cormorant by a robotic underwater vehicle and the aircraft can be reeled in to the submarine that is just below the surface. Made of titanium and other advanced materials, the Cormorant weighs about four tons.
To compensate for underwater pressures that are three times greater than the maximum pressure that a typical aircraft can withstand, the inside of the Cormorant will be pressurized with inert gas or air. Smart, stealthy, and fast, the Cormorant's gull-like wings can fold and unfold around the body of the aircraft.
Two Lockheed Martin companies were partnered with the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency in designing and conducting submerged recovery testing of this unique, reusable, unmanned aircraft. Lockheed Martin Aeronautics brings a legacy of designing the most advanced and stealthy aircraft in the world - manned and unmanned.
Lockheed Martin Maritime Systems & Sensors delivers its prodigious capabilities in cutting-edge ship design and naval weapons systems. Whether equipped with cameras for surveillance or smart bombs for precision strike against coastal or seaborne targets, the Cormorant will help keep U.S. and allied forces a safe distance from enemy combatants. The Cormorant also provides our Trident submarine force with a mission that adapts well to current conditions, such as the war on terror.