IMAGES: Lockheed’s stealth C-130 successor revealed

front shot credit usaf.jpg

Forty years ago, the US Air Force tried to replace the Lockheed Martin C-130 with a super short take-off and landing (STOL) airlifter, with the Boeing YC-14 and McDonnell YC-15 as the candidates. Then, things got weird. Budgets grew, funding shrank and eventually the requirement transformed into something much larger. Thus, the Boeing C-17A Globemaster III was borne to replace the Lockheed C-141B Starlifter and the Lockheed C-130 continues into its seventh decade of active production.

What goes around always seems to come around in this business, and so it is with the YC-14 and YC-15.

Meet the Speed Agile. If the USAF is allowed to spend big money on a super-STOL C-130 replacement after 2020, this is Lockheed’s idea for what it should look like. Boeing is also working on an alternative concept. The Air Force Research Laboratory has been funding both Lockheed and Boeing to work on wind tunnel models. Last month, the AFRL released these front and rear images of a 23%-scale model of the four-engine Lockheed Speed Agile concept. The wind tunnel model includes two Williams FJ44 engines. The Secret Projects forum found the images earlier today on AFRL’s web site. 

rear shot credit usaf.jpg


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22 Responses to IMAGES: Lockheed’s stealth C-130 successor revealed

  1. MrSatyre 14 September, 2011 at 2:47 am #

    That has GOT to be the coolest design I’ve seen since the Bird of Prey.

  2. John S 14 September, 2011 at 5:20 am #

    How the hell can that be stealthy, when from front on, we are looking straight into the two engines inlet fan blades. Unless skillfully hidden
    (ducted, e.g. the F-22, B-2, F-35), the turbine engine inlets/fans have the highest radar reflectivity on a friggin’ plane.

  3. sferrin 14 September, 2011 at 2:18 pm #

    Wow, and I thought the Mach 4 bomber had no chance.

  4. RunningBear 14 September, 2011 at 3:19 pm #

    1- With a payload equal to the C-130, what would be the specs on SSTOL?
    2- Are these Pratt & Whitney F117-PW-100 turbofans or equivalents?
    3- Will it be a competitor to the C-17B proposal?

  5. jetcal1 14 September, 2011 at 3:45 pm #

    “Then, things got weird. Budgets grew, funding shrank….”
    Wow…that really happened?

    Aside from that, this thing is going to go into expeditionary strips with two huge vacuum cleaners hanging down in the dirt?

    I considered that the model might be upside down, but there appears to be a flap track visible on the LH wing.

  6. Brandon Roop 14 September, 2011 at 4:38 pm #

    High FOD risk with those big turbofans?

  7. dopydem 14 September, 2011 at 6:09 pm #

    And we need stealthy cargo planes for what? Maybe SOF needs a few spook planes that size but in general I don’t think so. And as for the cost of developing a new STOL cargo hauler, what happened to JATO bottles?

    Our needs are more along the lines of killing the F-35 money pit and looking at a realistic mid level fighter that doesn’t try to walk on water while chewing gum and jumping up and down at the same time.

  8. Kestrel242 14 September, 2011 at 8:34 pm #

    @dopeydem – The stealth requirement would be for performing personnel and resupply drops behind or near enemy lines.

  9. Bryan 14 September, 2011 at 9:02 pm #

    While it is stealthy in shape, obviously the big engines up front are not and with this being for a transport aircraft there really isn’t much need for high end stealth. But with modern composites and shapes why not build stealthy features into the design. Now I would not be in favor of them adding stealth coatings or anything along those lines as it simply would not make sense but where is the harm in giving it the stealthy and super efficient flying wing look up front?

  10. RunningBear 14 September, 2011 at 10:57 pm #

    Stephen is joking abit obviously, as several of you have mentioned that issue of the big fans. Operational experience from the big fans on the C-17A should bring credibility to this design. : )

  11. keesje 14 September, 2011 at 11:21 pm #

    I think this makes EADS happy.

    They’ll do the A400M tour next yr, while LM & Boeing are launching multimedia campaign with fancy designs.

    B2, F22 and JSF give a good indication on the planning and costs of such aircraft.

    The A400M will be pretty mature by 2012.

  12. David 15 September, 2011 at 5:09 pm #

    YGBSM. This fascination with stealth is going overboard. How about focusing on function over form? By adding “stealth” to a title, we’re adding unnecessary millions (billions ?) of dollars to the bottom line. *sigh*

  13. ganzkoerperkostuem 15 September, 2011 at 5:26 pm #


  14. ganzkoerperkostuem 15 September, 2011 at 7:33 pm #


  15. ErstO 15 September, 2011 at 9:52 pm #

    Having watched C130′s landing on a Ft. Bragg drop zone, I would say this bird would have a hell of a time keeping sand out of the engines.

  16. Nifo 16 September, 2011 at 6:51 am #

    Applications for a large stealth lifter are numerous otherwise it wouldn’t be a Skunk Works project… dropping SF by parachute and dropping off vehicles and equipment via LAPES, dropping large non-nuclear ordinance like MOAB or possible some classified giant bunker buster to destroy targets impenetrable to the kind of ordinance a B-2 or B-52 can deliver (I have Iranian nuclear sites in mind).

    There may be a belief that in the near to mid future, it may become commonplace for enemies to possess SAMs (and shoulder fired rockets) with more sophisticated capabilities allowing them to evade standard current air defense countermeasures necessitating a response of stealth designs for generally slow moving assets like cargo planes (less likely IMHO).

    I’m sure there’s a hundred and one applications I haven’t gotten around to figuring out yet…

  17. puppethead 16 September, 2011 at 12:05 pm #

    I believe LM used to call it the MACK, later BMACK, after its intended roles:
    B – bomber
    M – spec ops
    A – gunship
    C – transport
    K – tanker

    Reminds me a little of a VTOL airlifter design (with occasional gunship capability) from back in the ’60s – I believe Gerry Anderson called it Thunderbird 2:)

  18. Matt 16 September, 2011 at 6:50 pm #

    For all of you yelling about the big engines up front. IT’S ONLY A SCALE MODEL! Those engines are just for this test. It obviously stated in the article that the final design would have four engines.

  19. jetcal1 16 September, 2011 at 6:53 pm #

    An engineer’s imagination unencumbered by the real world

  20. jetcal1 16 September, 2011 at 10:20 pm #

    1. Why are they wasting tunnel time and dollars for a non developmental configuration?

    2. Given the apparent configuration, dropping fan diameter does not appear that it would make much difference. I would love to see the results of rev. thrust on an austre strip.

    Sure, it’s a personal bias, But, I see no place for big fans in expeditionary airlift.

  21. keesje 21 September, 2011 at 9:56 am #

    If we skip landing on soft runways from the requirements list, there are the aplications mentioned by Nifo and puppethead. A kind of a stealthy alround bomber, tanker, transport, gunship platform. Maybe MPA too?

    Still costs / complications could be prohibitive..

  22. MrSatyre 23 September, 2011 at 12:15 am #

    Reminds me of something one of our engineers (who had been transferred to marketing and product planning—and had spent three years arduously learning social skills) once said to a bunch of other engineers who did not feel they had to think “inside the box”.

    “Just because you can do something, doesn’t always mean you should.”

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