According to the U.S. Department of Defense contract announcements, Lockheed Martin Corp was awarded a mysterious contract from the U.S. Air Force for the R&D of various high altitude platforms.
The award, announced by the U.S. Department of Defense on 15 April, provides for the advancement of functional materials and their applications for manned or unmanned aerial vehicles capable of flying at high altitudes.
The cost-plus-fixed-fee contract for materials research and development for Lockheed Martin is valued at $9,7 million.
The work, which is is expected to be complete in July 2025, will be performed in Sunnyvale, California, where Lockheed builds the satellites and missiles.
The Department of Defense also said that Air Force Research Laboratory at Wright Patterson Air Force Base in Ohio is the contracting authority.
No details or plans to use these high-altitude platforms have been revealed.
Related Topic: Air Force Secret Aircraft
Last year on U.S. Air Force 73rd Birthday the Secretary of the Air Force Public Affairs has published on the Defense Visual Information Distribution Service an interesting graphic that features prominently, in the center and in the background, an unknown new aircraft that has not been confirmed as real or fictional.
The timing is really interesting, as this graphic, comes just few days after the announcement by Dr. Will Roper, the Assistant Secretary of the Air Force for Acquisition, Technology and Logistics, that the Air Force has secretly designed, built and flown at least one full-scale prototype of a new generation fighter aircraft.
The existence of the demonstrator was first confirmed by Dr. Roper to reporter Valerie Insinna of Defense News during the Air Force Association’s virtual Air, Space and Cyber Conference 2020:
“We’ve already built and flown a full-scale flight demonstrator in the real world, and we broke records in doing it. We are ready to go and build the next-generation aircraft in a way that has never happened before.”
The development is certain to shock the defense community, which last saw the first flight of an experimental fighter during the battle for the Joint Strike Fighter contract 20 years ago.
With the Air Force’s future fighter program still in its infancy, the rollout and successful first flight of a demonstrator were not expected for years.