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Scaled Composites Model 401

The state-of-the-art Model 401 plane, which was developed by Northrop Grumman subsidiary Scaled Composites, made its maiden flight in 2017. Shortly after the Model 401 made its maiden flight in October 2017, Scaled Composites said in a press release the company had built two such planes in order "to demonstrate [their] advanced, low-cost manufacturing techniques and to provide aircraft for research flight services to industry partners and the United States government".

Scaled Composites is proud to announce the rollout and first flight of its most recent project, experimental aircraft Model 401. Scaled worked with a proprietary customer to build two vehicles to demonstrate advanced, low-cost manufacturing techniques and to provide aircraft for research flight services to industry partners and the United States government. The two vehicles were designed to be identical in outer mold line and performance, with each aircraft powered by a single Pratt & Whitney JTD-15D-5D engine with 3,045 pounds of thrust.

The vehicles are capable of flying Mach 0.6 with a service ceiling of 30,000 feet and have a wingspan of 38 feet and are 38 feet long. They have an empty weight of 4,000 pounds and a maximum take-off weight of 8,000 pounds with an endurance of up to three hours. Experts have suggested that the aircraft received an all-composite construction. When designing it, the requirements of stealth technology were taken into account. It is noteworthy that, despite the uncertainties about the destination, the company shared the characteristics. The wingspan and length of the aircraft are the same - 11 meters. The vehicle received one Pratt & Whitney JTD-15D-5D bypass turbojet with thrust up to 1381 kilograms. The aircraft is subsonic: its maximum speed is Mach 0.6. The service ceiling is over nine kilometers, and the flight duration can be up to three hours.

As it became known now, the plane flew across the country, ending up at the test base of the Naval Air Station Patuxent River. Despite the continued silence of Scaled Composites, experts were able to collect new interesting data. Among other things, it turned out that the plane is called "Son of Ares." It is worth saying that Ares - in ancient Greek mythology - is the god of war.

Aaron Cassebeer, Project Engineer said, “This is such an exciting time for us. Scaled is at the forefront of experimental aircraft development and I am fortunate enough to have a front row seat.” He went on to say this about the mission, “Today was a great day for our test team. We had a great flight and we are looking forward to the future test program.” This successful first flight is the beginning of the flight test phase for vehicle number 1. The Scaled team plans to continue envelope expansion on the first aircraft as they move toward first flight of the second Model 401 vehicle.

The sophisticated US stealth plane Model 401 with "odd markings" on its fuselage made another test flight in September 2020, Warzone editor Tylor Rogoway reported. In an article published by the news outlet Verge on Thursday, Rogoway said that "the mystery" aircraft, developed by Northrop Grumman subsidiary Scaled Composites, flew over the Mojave Desert in the southwestern US and was escorted by an F-15D fighter jet. The author specifically pointed to the experimental Model 401’s "new overall gray coating […] and large discolored diamond-like shapes below the cockpit and on its lower tail section".

"It is unclear what exactly these patches are for, but it seems like the Model 401s may be participating in a test that at least has something to do with their signatures, which can include radar, electronic, infrared, and visual", he noted.

According to Rogoway, the Model 401’s Mojave Desert flyover can be seen as sort of a coating test that was conducted amid efforts to reduce the plane’s infrared signature, which is "becoming more and more important as infrared search and track (IRST) systems are increasing in their capabilities and pose a real threat to stealthy aircraft".

The author also suggested that the latest Model 401 flight test was part of US efforts to "prove" the development of unmanned aerial vehicles, including Boeing’s "Loyal Wingman" combat drone. "[…] It seems clear that whatever program is underway involving these little stealthy jets it is a complex one that requires a large variety of assets and multiple test flights", Rogoway concluded.

Crew one
Length 38 ft (12 m)
Wingspan 38 ft (12 m)
Empty weight 4,000 lb (1,800 kg)
Gross weight 8,000 lb (3,600 kg)
Powerplant 1 × Pratt & Whitney Canada JT15D-5D turbofan,
3,045 lbf (13.54 kN) thrust
Maximum speed Mach 0.6
Endurance 3 hours
Service ceiling 30,000 ft (9,000 m)

Scaled Composites Model 401 Scaled Composites Model 401 Scaled Composites Model 401 Scaled Composites Model 401 Scaled Composites Model 401 Scaled Composites Model 401

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Page last modified: 01-07-2021 17:55:28 ZULU