Lockheed Martin is considering building a replacement for its P-175 Polecat private-venture unmanned air vehicle demonstrator, which crashed in December last year when a ground equipment failure triggered the platform's flight termination system.

"Nothing has been firmly decided, but it is certainly being discussed," says the company's Skunk Works advanced development organisation. The Polecat was a Lockheed-funded research programme that began in March 2003, with the flying-wing UAV flying secretly towards the end of 2005. Lockheed revealed details of the Polecat project during last year's Farnborough air show (Flight International, 25-31 July 2006 ).

The high-altitude UAV demonstrator had just returned to flight test when it crashed on 18 December.

Powered by two Williams FJ44 turbofans, the subsonic Polecat was intended to validate composite structures technology and evaluate the flight dynamics of a low-drag, tailless, all-wing design in support of Lockheed's research and development work for the US Air Force's future Long-Range Strike programme.

Source: Flight International