The Air Force 'Arsenal Plane' mock up
The US Air Force has offered an artist’s impression of the Pentagon’s “arsenal plane” concept in a video presented by service secretary Deborah Lee James at an Air Warfare Symposium in Orlando, Florida today.The aircraft would be the Air Force version of an aircraft carrier that appears to be a large drone launching smaller drones.
As first seen in DARPA "system of systems" promotion released last year, the video depicts an aircraft with an eight-engine Boeing B-52 bomber wing with the body of a Lockheed Martin C-130 turboprop. The secretary's outtake shows the aircraft launching a barrage of networked Raytheon Small Diameter Bomb II glide bombs at mobile enemy radar warning and air defence targets.
This aircraft mash-up is relevant, because the Pentagon has not revealed whether its arsenal plane will be a re-purposed B-52 or a smaller cargo airplane like the C-130, or perhaps faster types like the C-17 or B-1B.
The cargo-bomber airplane concept appears to be unmanned since it doesn’t have a cockpit window, but does have a side cargo bay door. It’s not known if the arsenal plane – based on an old, repurposed aircraft – will carry weapon specialists, similar to current AC-130 gunships.