back to article General Atomics unwraps new, Stealth(y) robot war-jet

General Atomics Aeronautical Systems Inc (GA-ASI), maker of the famous Predator and Reaper unmanned warplanes, has taken the wraps off a new and still more powerful kill-robot - the "Avenger". The company says that first flights have been conducted successfully this month. The Predator C ("Avenger") robot warplane. Credit: GA- …


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  1. Rob

    non stealthy undercarriage?

    apparently one look at the doors/flaps will confirm it, however it looks to me like they fold up flat against the body of the aircraft, what's not stealthy about them that i am not seeing here?

  2. Andrew Newstead

    tail hooks

    Just a note, quite a few nominally land based aircraft have arrestor hooks as an emergancy backup against brake/hydrualic failure. Examples include F16, F117, English Electric Lightning(have actually worked on one of those!). Granted that the one shown on this beastie seems to be quite substantial and more like that of a navy aircraft . I do seem to remember reading that they recover a lot of these UAVs using various kinds of arrestor gear including net barriers.

    It does seem that UAVs will be the future of air combat, even BAe are working on this technology.

  3. TeeCee Gold badge

    Re: non stealthy undercarriage?

    It's the straight edges on the doors. When closed, they leave a straight seam which acts as a radar reflector. If you look at the pupose-designed stealth aircraft, the external doors (undercart, bomb bays et. al.) all have wiggly edges to avoid this effect.

    This is most obvious on the F-117, the original Stealth Fighter, where the gear doors have an edge like pinking shears due to its "triangles only" design, which arises from modelling radar reflection characteristics using '70s vintage computers which didn't have the horsepower to do this for curved shapes.

  4. Craig Vaughton

    Non-Stealth doors

    Take a look at photos of F117 or B2 undercarriage doors, they use jagged shaped edges to cause the radar signal to bounce around the radar absobent material they're made of, so reducing the return signature. Plus they are much thicker, to shield any return off the metalwork of the undercarriage oleos hiding behind.

    Come on, keep up!

    All we need now is passive A-A sensors and clearance of ASRAM or something similar and another band of XBox pilots can fly top cover!

  5. Andrew Newstead

    re non stealthy undercarriage?

    I think Lewis is refering to the fact that the current stealth aircraft (F117, B2) have zig-zag edges along the forward and trailing edges of the u/c doors and weapon bays. This is done because em radiation is scattered off the aircraft away from the tracking radar, hence reducing the radar signature of the aircraft.

    A simple trick but took a super computer to work it out.

    Oh BTW did you know we brits had a steath aircraft long before the americans? The Avro Vulcan could disapear from radar when turned in certain directions, it's shape was almost perfect for stealth. Mind you you couldn't hide the noise!

  6. Matt Bryant Silver badge

    RE: Rob

    The straight edges of the landing gear doors actually increase radar signature even if they close relatively flush with the fuselage or wings. If you have a look at real stealth designs you'll see a toothlike patterm of triangles down many straight edges such as doors (the bottom of the windscreen on the F-117A is a good example which can been seen in most pics of the plane), so that radar waves are deflected and dispersed.

    Given the recent Israeli use of drones to attack targets in Sudan, which supposedly has an air defence system, it seems there will definately be a market for stealthier attack drones. Seeing as the Taleban don't use much radar, it looks like the Avenger is expected for work in places like Iran or North Korea (or Syria or Pakistan, depending on how paranoid you think Obambi can get).

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Up

    Build "military will actually need for operations"...

    ... "rather than trying to build what the services say they want."

    It is (though it shouldn't be) amazing that a private company has actually done some joined-up thinking on military equipment and is making a success of it.

    If you ask the Military what they want, they'll demand the moon on a stick and then keep changing their minds on what sort of stick it should be whilst defence manufacturers get rich as they charge the Government for every little amendment.

    Just give them something that does the job and you won't end up with nonsense like the F22 and the F35...

  8. Parax


    Time to research the Martian Solution.

    Then off to Cydonia!

    Sectiod Icon of course...

  9. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Re: Build "military will actually need for operations"...

    > It is (though it shouldn't be) amazing that a private company has actually done some joined-up

    > thinking on military equipment and is making a success of it.

    Or maybe they were just lucky.

    Northrop wasn't so lucky with the F-20.

    General Atomics? Sounds like something out of a Tom Swift book.

  10. goggyturk


    Could be a naval competitor to the X-47B - less capable but cheaper and available now? I would imagine the partial stealth features would come in handy in Pakistani (Talebani?) airspace in the near future...

  11. Efros
    Paris Hilton

    Hawker Siddeley

    Had a similar self financed approach when they, developed the Harrier. Filled a gap that the armed forces didn't even perceive until they saw the Harrier nee Kestrel in operation.

    Paris cos she knows repeated VTOL is best.

  12. Cian

    Re: non stealthy undercarriage?

    TeeCee, Craig Vaughton, Andrew Newstead, et al;

    I found this pic of the undercarriage of a F117 and it has a straight lines in the bay doors:

    Granted, the windows do have the aforementioned 'triangle' edges, but not the bay doors...

    On these ones:

    it looks like the trailing edge has, three, triangles.

    The jury is out

  13. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Short field performance

    Does anyone know the take off and landing distances (without arrestor wires)? I want to fly one in the park on Sunday afternoons. Also, are the wings held on with rubber bands in case you crash it?

  14. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    General Atomics

    Best company name ever.

    They also designed the batshit-crazy ocean liner-sized Orion spacecraft powered by small nuclear bombs - which for some reason never got approval.

  15. Miami Mike

    Available surplus soon?

    Hey when this becomes obsolete, can I buy one and junk all the mil-stuff and put seats into it instead? What a great personal aircraft this would make! (Or maybe I'd want to keep the mil-stuff and just shuffle it around to make room for a couple of seats - yes, officer, I use this for pest control, why do you ask?)

  16. Teoh Han Hui

    Stark Industries

    Stark Industries in the making :P

    "... insuring freedom and protecting America and her interests around the globe."

  17. SkippyBing

    re:The jury is out

    No it isn't. To avoid the re-radiated energy being deflected back towards the emitter stealth aircraft/ships/boats/wombats have a number of typical features, including zig-zag edges to openings. Generally the angle on the zig-zags should match that of other aspects of the vehicle, e.g. the leading edge of the wing, the idea is to re-radiate as much of the energy as possible in a predictable direction and then avoid that spike of energy pointing towards the radar site. Obviously this requires a certain amount of careful pre-flight planning, or at least it did in the F-117. Depending on the location and size of the door you'll need more or less zig-zags, or even just the one straight edge if it's in the right place.

    In the Avenger the lines of the doors don't seem to be aligned with any other feature of the airframe apart from the hole it's covering so it's reasonable to assume it hasn't undergone as complete a signature reduction as possible. At least not yet.

  18. Andy Barber

    @ It's not stealthy enough comments

    It's a prototype!

  19. LINCARD1000

    Worse than MS vs Mac vs Linux tards

    Gah! Save us from the aircraft/engineering/physics geeks!

  20. John Smith Gold badge

    An astonishing claim

    "GA-ASI's philosophy is to build what the company thinks the US military will actually need for operations"

    He acts like the weapons, sorry defence, business is some sort of "Free market." Thomas Cassidy Jr is clearly a dangerous fellow with some very radical views.

    He might even (dare I whisper it) *ignore* some of the military procurement regulations. I am in shock.

    Doesn't he know the proper way to get a defence project running is to figure out what bits of your company aren't making enough money knock some gizmo and then get some lobbyist to grease some Senators to say this is just what the armed forces need.

    It's practically un-American

  21. Yorkshirepudding
    Black Helicopters

    he says there is a storm coming.....

    sure its starting to fall in place! next up Chrom HK's coming the sky

    /tinfoil hat

  22. Anders Halling

    @ Parax

    Cydonia without Psionics? Brave man.

    Sectoid Leader with high Psi skill.

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