Airbus has just released images and information about its previously undisclosed Low Observable UAV Testbed (LOUT) program that worked to provide the company with a better understanding of cutting-edge very low-observable (stealthy) design, material and manufacturing sciences, and other associated technologies.
The program dates back well over a decade, but is just breaking cover now and it stands to portray the European planemaker in a different light when it comes to its ability to produce next-generation combat aircraft.
LOUT was based on a Skunk Works concept of program execution…..The initiative incorporated holistic signature reduction techniques across RF, IR, visual, and acoustic domains. It also worked to better understand how to integrate advanced electronic warfare and countermeasures into a stealthy design to increase its survivability.
Advanced mission control and sensor fusion software that compared the aircraft's signature against threat capabilities in its environment was also part of the initiative as was the integration of advanced sensors beneath its stealthy skin. All areas of stealth technology, from the aircraft's air inlets, to its exhaust, to its sensor apertures, and other radar defeating sub-structures were incorporated into the design.
Stealthy low-probability of intercept (LPI) communications and sensors and even cybersecurity were also parts of the program. So, we are basically talking about a huge risk reduction and research program that could work as a pre-runner to eventually designing and producing a stealthy operational airframe.
Check out images below of LOUT in the anechoic chamber. Note that the canopy is not representative of a manned design, but the modular platform was used to investigate all types of low-observable apertures, including translucent canopies for manned low-observable aircraft. (end of excerpt)
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