#AUVSI: Skunk Works unveils medium-altitude surprise

Lockheed Martin has unveiled a concept for a new unmannedaerial vehicle (UAV) that appears aimed at the emerging market for amedium-altitude surveillance aircraft with several days of endurance.

A diagram on the exhibit booth yesterday identifies theaircraft by the acronym “MPLE”, but does not elaborate.The photo shows the aircraft flying at what appears to bemedium altitude over a desert landscape. The turreted sensor appears to behanging from beneath the nose. The high-aspect ratio wings are bent upwards atthe tips for a dihedral angle.

Lockheed’s new MAPL design appears reminiscent of thetwin-boomed P-38 Lightning, except with a high-aspect ratio for long-enduranceflight at slow speed. The P-38 was designed by Clarence L. “Kelly” Johnsonseveral years before he founded the Skunk Works organization, which producedthe MAPL concept.

Photos by Stephen Trimble


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5 Responses to #AUVSI: Skunk Works unveils medium-altitude surprise

  1. Mike Plunkett 24 August, 2010 at 5:20 pm #

    MPLE – Multi-Purpose, Long Endurance perhaps?

  2. Stephen Trimble 24 August, 2010 at 5:53 pm #

    My guess is medium-altitude for the M, maybe persistent for the P and definitely long endurance for the LE.

  3. fightingirish 24 August, 2010 at 9:10 pm #

    you’re right!
    “MPLE” means “Multi-Purpose Long Endurance”.

    See factsheet:

  4. Stephen Trimble 24 August, 2010 at 10:15 pm #

    Nice sleuthing! I just talked to Lockheed about the concept. I’ll update the blog later tonight.

  5. Ran Barton 25 August, 2010 at 3:19 am #

    Spotters comment: the twin-boom design was not unique to Kelly or Lockheed – witness the Hughes XF-11, the Northrop P-61, and the Vultee XP-54, off the top of my head.

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