Northrop Grumman is to compete for Phase 1 of the US Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency’s Switchblade programme to design a subscale unmanned demonstrator for a 2020-timeframe stealthy, supersonic oblique flying-wing reconnaissance aircraft bomber. Northrop says the programme is in line with previous studies it has performed into various configurations for a future long-range strike aircraft. Northrop has experience with the flight-control challenges of a tailless unstable flying wing, having designed the B-2. Phase 1 contracts will be awarded this year. If the programme proceeds, the X-plane demonstrator could fly in 2010.