Military Review

The interrupted flight of the American "Cormorant"

The interrupted flight of the American "Cormorant"

In the process of creating a nuclear submarine - carrier of sea-based cruise missiles and special forces groups (SSGNs) into which the first four Ohio-type SSBNs were converted, as well as littoral warships (LBK, recently according to changes in the classification, they became frigates) on the agenda, the question arose of the need to incorporate aircraft (LA) into their armaments, capable of quickly providing effective air support for their operations. First of all, it was about conducting day-to-day and all-weather reconnaissance and observation, issuing target designation and assessing the damage inflicted on the enemy, and shock tasks and support for the actions of special forces, including the delivery of supplies, were identified as secondary tasks.

At the same time, the small amounts of usable space available on relatively small LBKs and the characteristics of the SSGN's combat work did not allow to use either manned aircraft or large MQ-8 “Fire Scout” drones for these purposes. The only remaining option is the use of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) capable of launching from the deck of the ship or from the surface of the water (in the latter case, it was possible to remove the apparatus from the submarine and then launch from the water), and also to board the water after completing the mission.

In this regard, the American military experts proposed to consider the possibility of creating a multi-purpose unmanned aerial vehicle (Multi-Purpose UAV or MPUAV) with a surface / underwater launch, which in the first place was supposed to be armed with an Ohio-type SSGN. The promising UAV was named after one of the most common sea birds - the cormorant, which in transliteration from English sounds more proudly - “Cormorant” (Cormorant).


In 2003, the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) specialists of the United States Defense Department launched the six-month “zero” stage of this program, during which they conducted a preliminary study of the possibility of creating a UAV capable of independently starting from underwater or surface carrier and determine the tactical and technical requirements for it.

Dr. Thomas Butner, who worked in the agency’s Tactical Technologies department and also supervised Friction Drag Reduction and Oblique Flying Wing programs, was appointed project manager. Within these programs, respectively, it was assumed to develop a model for estimating friction resistance with respect to US Navy surface ships and developing technical solutions to reduce it (this reduced fuel consumption and increased speed, range and autonomy of ships sailing), as well as creating an experimental model of high-speed aircraft The “flying wing”, the wing sweep of which changed due to the “skew” of its planes (one plane moved forward (negative sweep), and the other - back (positive sweep).

According to DARPA spokeswoman Jeanne Walker, the prospective UAV was designed to “provide direct aviation support for warships such as littoral warships and SSGN. ” In accordance with the data of the project card published by DARPA, the following tasks should be solved within the program:

- develop a concept for the use of UAVs with surface and underwater start;

- to study the behavior of the UAV at the boundary of water and air;

- to work out new composite materials in practice;

- to ensure the strength and tightness of the UAV design, required for launching from the designated depths or from the surface of the surface ship;

- to work out the power unit of the UAV capable of withstanding aggressive environmental conditions on the underwater section, and also to demonstrate the ability to quickly start the main engine of the UAV to start from the water;

- to work out all the elements of practical application of the UAV - from the start from surface and underwater carriers to landing and evacuation.

Two years later, the Pentagon approved the transition to the first phase of the program, the 1 Phase, under which funding for the development, construction and testing of a UAV prototype, as well as funding for individual onboard systems was carried out by DARPA, and direct development of the device was assigned to the Skank Works division of the company Lockheed Martin. The company also took over part of the project costs.

“A multipurpose UAV will be part of a single unique network-centric system that will significantly expand the combat capabilities of the new SSGN created on the basis of the Trident system,” Lockheed Martin said in a press release. - Possessing the possibility of an underwater launch and distinguished by a high secrecy of action, the UAV will be able to effectively operate from under the water, providing the necessary aviation support. The combination of the Trident system and the multipurpose UAV will provide the commanders in the theater of theater with truly unique opportunities, both in the pre-war period and in the course of full-scale hostilities. ”


After examining various ways of placing the UAV on board an Ohio-type SSGN, Skunk Works' specialists decided to use “natural launchers” - the SLBM missile mines that had a length (height) of 13 m and a diameter of 2,2 m. wing - wing “gull” attached to the fuselage on the hinges and when folded, as if “embraced” him. After opening the lid of the UAV shaft, it was pulled out by the outer contours of the submarine body on a special “saddle”, after which it opened the wing (the planes rose to the sides upward at an angle of 120 degrees), freed from the grips and, due to positive buoyancy, independently floated to the surface of the water.

Upon reaching the surface of the water, two solid fuel starting accelerators — modified solid propellant rocket motors of the Mk 135 type, used at the Tomahawk SLCM — were put into operation. Engines have 10 – 12 running hours. During this time, they raised the BLAH from the water vertically upwards and brought it to the calculated trajectory, where the main engine was involved in the work, and the solid propellant rocket motors themselves were dropped. As a sustainer engine, it was planned to use a small-sized dual-circuit TRD with a 13,3 kN drive, created on the basis of the Honeywell AS903 engine.

The launch of the UAV was planned to be performed from a depth of about 150 feet (46 m), which required the use of high-strength materials in its design. The UAV case is made of titanium, all voids in the structure and docking units were carefully sealed with special materials (silicone sealants and syntactic foams), and the inside of the fuselage was filled with inert gas under pressure.

The mass of the device is 4082 kg, the mass of the payload is 454 kg, the mass of jet fuel of the JP-5 brand for the main engine is 1135 kg, the length of the device is 5,8 m, the wingspan of the gull-type is 4,8 m, and its sweep on the leading edge is 40 degrees. The payload included mini-radar, optoelectronic system, communications equipment, as well as small means of destruction, such as Boeing's small-caliber SDB aerial bomb or small-size UL with autonomous guidance system LOCAAS (LOw-Cost Autonomous Attack System) Lockheed Martin. The Cormoran's combat radius is of the order of 1100 – 1300 km, the practical ceiling is 10,7 km, the flight duration is 3 hours, the cruising speed is M = 0,5, and the maximum is M = 0,8.

In order to increase the secrecy of actions immediately after the launch of the UAV, the submarine-carrier had to leave the area immediately, moving as far as possible. After the unmanned aerial vehicle had completed the task, the command to return and the coordinates of the landing site were sent from the submarine. At the designated point, the onboard UAV control system turned off the engine, folded the wing and released a parachute, and after landing, the Cormoran released a special cable and waited for evacuation.

“The task of safely landing the 9000 pounds apparatus at a landing speed of the order of 230 – 240 km / h is very difficult,” emphasized then the senior project engineer Robert Ruzhkovski. - It was possible to solve it in several ways. One of them consisted in abrupt dumping of speed and execution of the cobra maneuver previously put into the onboard control system, and the other, more practical from a practical point of view, was to use a parachute system, as a result of which the device was prostrated with its nose forward. It was necessary to ensure the safety of the UAV itself and its equipment in the 5 – 10 g overload range, which required the use of a parachute with a dome with a diameter of 4,5 – 5,5 m. ”

The driven down BLAV was detected using a sonar, and then it was picked up by a remote-controlled uninhabited underwater vehicle. The latter was produced from the same missile mine, where the “drone” was previously located, and pulled along a long cable that docked with the cable released by the UAV, and with its help, the “drone” was wound up on the “saddle”, which was then removed to the submarine missile shaft.

In the case of the use of "Cormoran" from a surface ship, in particular LBK, the device was placed on a special pallet-boat, with which it was taken overboard. After splashing the UAV, all actions were repeated in the same sequence as when starting from a submerged position: starting the starting engines, turning on the main engine, flying along a given route, returning and landing, after which you just had to pick up the device and return it to the ship.


The first stage of work, in which the contractor had to design the device and a number of related systems, and also demonstrate the possibility of integrating them into a single complex, was designed for 16 months. 9 in May 2005, the corresponding contract worth $ 4,2 million was signed with Lockheed Martin Aeronautics, the main contractor for the program. In addition, the performers included General Dynamic Electric Boat, Lockheed Martin Perry Technologies and Teledine Turbine Engine Company, with which the relevant contracts for the total amount of 2,9 million were signed. The customer himself, DARPA, received in the 2005 fiscal year from the budget of the US Department of Defense for this program 6,7 million dollars and requested another 2006 million dollars for the 9,6 financial year.

The results of the work on the first stage were to be two main tests: submarine tests of a full-sized, but not flying, model of the UAV, which was to be equipped with the main onboard systems, as well as tests of the “saddle” mock-up, on which the device was to be located in the atomic-powered missile mine installed on the seabed). It was also necessary to demonstrate the possibility of safely landing the UAV "nose forward" and the ability of its on-board equipment to withstand the overloads that occur. In addition, the developer had to demonstrate the evacuation of the landing UAV using a remote-controlled uninhabited underwater vehicle and demonstrate the possibility of ensuring the launch of the marching bypass turbojet engine by supplying high-pressure gas.

According to the results of the first stage, the leadership of DARPA and the Pentagon was to decide on the future of the program, although already in 2005, representatives of DARPA stated that they expect the United States Navy to enter into service in the 2010 financial year after the end of the 3 Phase.

The first phase of the test was completed by September 2006 (demonstration tests were conducted near the Kitsap-Bangor submarine base station), after which the customer had to decide on financing the construction of a full-fledged flight prototype. However, in 2008, the DARPA management finally stopped funding the project. The official reason is budget cuts and the choice of a Boeing company “Scan Eagle” as an “underwater” UAV. However, for the time being, submarines with Ohio-type cruise missiles and US Navy special forces groups based on them remain without a UAV with an underwater launch, and littoral warships that have become frigates can be used only by larger Fire Scout unmanned aerial vehicles and more simple "drone" mini-class.
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  1. godofwar6699
    godofwar6699 14 May 2016 06: 29
    soon we will have an iron man tongue
    1. viktor_ui
      viktor_ui 14 May 2016 07: 26
      godofwar6699 - you will have to rest on these laurels for a long time (I am for healthy competition between our countries) drinks
      1. pimen
        pimen 14 May 2016 07: 42
        and his legs will not be torn off by his jet?
      2. godofwar6699
        godofwar6699 14 May 2016 07: 52
        to viktor_ui

        same .. drinks
        1. jjj
          jjj 14 May 2016 10: 12
          Look what the processes are. The Americans are converting strategic boats of large displacement into "Tomahawks". It is still not worth talking about the carriers of the swimmers among them, just imagine how such a bulk is approaching the enemy coast in order to land a landing ...
          What do we have? Under the "Caliber" we took the boats of the project 636, quiet, small displacement, again small surface ships. Something else. There is an increase in the number of carrier platforms and their placement over a large area - dispersal. It seems that in our version the efficiency is higher
    2. kugelblitz
      kugelblitz 14 May 2016 16: 27
      They’ve been trying since the 60s, I think the iron men will not start flying soon! wassat

    3. dima mzk
      dima mzk 16 May 2016 05: 44
      We would have a military budget comparable to the USA; we would have transformers flying around the sky and walking across the earth wink
    4. Evgeny RS
      Evgeny RS 16 May 2016 15: 54
      We know that he will have enough fuel for only a few minutes))
  2. lpd1
    lpd1 14 May 2016 06: 54
    Ideal target wink
    1. viktor_ui
      viktor_ui 14 May 2016 07: 18
      you yourself are a target, and as for me, the sales are not a frail demonstrator, because what’s good is good and it doesn’t matter if this product. wassat
      1. Mountain shooter
        Mountain shooter 14 May 2016 07: 54
        A healthy toy, but terribly dangerous - for the user. Do not forget that 10 meters are three floors. No parachute can do anything, no wings, no propeller — no — if traction is lost, you fall like a stone. Not for nothing that the demonstrator flew over the water - at least some chance! To survive in case of equipment failure. No, it’s precisely this methodological defect that is inherent in such devices — until there are no means of rescue from falling from a height of 5–50 meters — such devices will go into business, no matter how beautiful they look on the video.
        1. godofwar6699
          godofwar6699 14 May 2016 08: 09
          Quote: Mountain Shooter
          A healthy toy, but terribly dangerous - for the user. Do not forget that 10 meters are three floors. No parachute can do anything, no wings, no propeller — no — if traction is lost, you fall like a stone. Not for nothing that the demonstrator flew over the water - at least some chance! To survive in case of equipment failure. No, it’s precisely this methodological defect that is inherent in such devices — until there are no means of rescue from falling from a height of 5–50 meters — such devices will go into business, no matter how beautiful they look on the video.

          1. nesvobodnye
            nesvobodnye 15 May 2016 01: 34
            And what is the range and carrying capacity?
      2. godofwar6699
        godofwar6699 14 May 2016 07: 57
        I would like to try good
        1. viktor_ui
          viktor_ui 14 May 2016 08: 27
          All this with AC / DC Mouzon ... I wouldn’t refuse to try it too (a cool concert of the late 90s, if I’m not mistaken, this group is against the backdrop of a hefty Michelin tire)
    2. kukan913
      kukan913 14 May 2016 14: 35
      such a carabiner for a sweet soul wink
  3. chunga-changa
    chunga-changa 14 May 2016 08: 50
    Quote: godofwar6699
    soon we will have an iron man

    This is not with us, it is with them. Apart from nanotolik with his "we really have a lot of money" on corporate parties, we have no other achievements.
    1. godofwar6699
      godofwar6699 14 May 2016 09: 39
      Quote: chunga-changa
      Quote: godofwar6699
      soon we will have an iron man

      This is not with us, it is with them. Apart from nanotolik with his "we really have a lot of money" on corporate parties, we have no other achievements.

      I'm from the US I think Russia is doing well in the arms sector hi
      1. NordUral
        NordUral 14 May 2016 15: 19
        This the USSR has done for many years to come, do not flatter yourself especially. It's a shame, but the old brains fled, who where. It is good that at least not everything, but the young people do not have the school continuity in the right amount. It's a shame and scary. The country does not have its own machine tool industry, only by the 80s they reached the world level and took second place in the world in terms of production, and here you are, those labeled and K were killed with the Union. But the liberal bastard does not want to give way to the patriots in power. We do a lot, but I can’t do it through, with a strain. We must face the truth and take action with the whole people. Ahead of the elections, our only peaceful way to change the situation for the better. And you can not ignore them.
      2. Asadullah
        Asadullah 15 May 2016 00: 08
        I'm from the US I think Russia is doing well in the arms sector

        We would have to cooperate on Mars, and in weapons ... .....
        1. godofwar6699
          godofwar6699 15 May 2016 00: 36
          Quote: Asadullah

          We would have to cooperate on Mars, and in weapons ... .....

          stupid politicians on our way. my dream is that Russia and the US will work together drinks
    2. Asadullah
      Asadullah 15 May 2016 00: 12
      Apart from nanotolik with his "we really have a lot of money"

      From what, the factory of lithium batteries works. Which Anatoly goes bankrupt by the usual method, and then redeems it at the "residual" value for his firms. Mysterious person, why does he know that he can get away with everything ???
  4. avg-mgn
    avg-mgn 14 May 2016 09: 43
    Quote: godofwar6699
    soon we will have an iron man

    Actually, it's beautiful, probably not very cheap. Question - for what? For throwing a saboteur loner? So there are alternative and more reliable and cheaper options.
    1. godofwar6699
      godofwar6699 14 May 2016 10: 22
      technology demonstrator
  5. Romanenko
    Romanenko 14 May 2016 10: 15
    Great, I wish I could try!
  6. godofwar6699
    godofwar6699 14 May 2016 10: 42
    Quote: Romanenko
    Great, I wish I could try!

    I agree with you a good adrenaline rush good
  7. voyaka uh
    voyaka uh 14 May 2016 11: 14
    They immediately swung at a very large machine. We would start with a small
    UAV for working out the release into the air-reconnaissance-return to the boat.
    1. godofwar6699
      godofwar6699 14 May 2016 11: 42
      as it would be
    2. Asadullah
      Asadullah 15 May 2016 00: 47
      They immediately swung at a very large machine.

      And here you are mistaken, dear. Most likely, it was precisely the lack of combat effectiveness that caused the curtailment of the program. In theory, those costs assumed a more powerful shock load. From that money the cat cried, the amount reflects the development of which is not the most expensive unit in "Abrash". Apparently what would have happened on paper, just in case. In fact, it is expensive, troublesome and ineffective. But beautiful. A similar task will be performed by a cruise missile, without the hassle of returning.
      1. alex-defensor
        alex-defensor 15 May 2016 21: 37
        I absolutely agree!
        And in practice, Donald Cook "toured" the Black Sea for half an hour as a tin can
        Anyway, the Americans do not need to create anything, it’s enough to make a film in Hollywood that they already have it!
      2. dauria
        dauria 16 May 2016 02: 13
        A cruise missile will perform a similar task, without troubles on returning.

        Yes, but where to run it? "You fly there around, look, you will see something. Well, Pokedova, goodbye ..." smile

        Target designation, target designation .... Achilles heel of many powerful weapon systems. They wanted to put this task on the bird.
  8. alauda1038
    alauda1038 14 May 2016 11: 26
    Hitler also had his hopes for a wunder waffle before his end. The result is known, but the amers will not help.
  9. Ivan Ivanych
    Ivan Ivanych 14 May 2016 14: 08
    To the author + for the information. Question why the heck is such an apparatus? Blacks and Arabs can be soaked with the A-10. What payload?
    1. iouris
      iouris 14 May 2016 14: 23
      A likely adversary for such a complex has not yet been created, but work is ongoing ...
  10. 1234567
    1234567 14 May 2016 14: 55
    Toy ... For shooters
  11. Pitot
    Pitot 14 May 2016 15: 40
    Cormorant? .... At one time, we used to call those who like to fight ... as a rule, they got it in wort .....
  12. The comment was deleted.
  13. Freeman
    Freeman 14 May 2016 22: 44
    Romanenko RU Today, 10:15
    Great, I wish I could try!

    Here's a similar "stray". Already available in Russia.

  14. Mooh
    Mooh 14 May 2016 22: 52
    I’m very interested, does DARPA have at least one development in the portfolio? All that they write about is either zilch or seams. Or is everything successful secret right away?
    1. godofwar6699
      godofwar6699 15 May 2016 00: 40
      It looks like you have no idea what DARPA is
    2. voyaka uh
      voyaka uh 15 May 2016 11: 59
      Completely, the most famous: the Internet (!), Missiles like the "LRASM (Long Range Anti-Ship Missile)" missiles, the "MQ-1 Predator" UAV ...
      1. Lt. Air Force stock
        Lt. Air Force stock 15 May 2016 18: 00
        Quote: voyaka uh
        missiles like KR "LRASM

        Design LRASM designed from scratch, but based on JASSM-ER. And when designing, JASSM-ER were based on the AGM-129 ACM. I’m all about the fact that DARPA did not invent anything advanced in the literal sense of the word. Where are hypersonic rockets, where are hypersonic planes, where are laser systems on alert, where are air defense shields (there is such information about developments on the network, the track is right on the fly), where are the railguns ???
        In the cruise subsonic anti-ship missile and in the turboprop drones there is nothing breakthrough innovative.
        1. godofwar6699
          godofwar6699 16 May 2016 02: 56
      2. godofwar6699
        godofwar6699 16 May 2016 03: 02
        Past projects
        Project AGILE, a Vietnam War-era investigation into methods of remote, asymmetric warfare for use in conflicts with Communist insurgents.
        ALASA: (Airborne Launch Assist Space Access): A rocket capable of launching a 100-pound satellite into low Earth orbit for less than $ 1 million.
        ARPANET, earliest predecessor of the Internet
        Adaptive Vehicle Make: Revolutionary approaches to the design, verification, and manufacturing of complex defense systems and vehicles.
        ArcLight: Ship-based weapon system capable of striking targets nearly anywhere on the globe, based on the Standard Missile 3.
        The Aspen Movie Map allowed one to virtually tour the streets of Aspen, Colorado. Developed in 1978, it is the earliest predecessor to products like Google Street View.
        ASTOVL, precursor of the Joint Strike Fighter Program [66]
        BigDog / Legged Squad Support System: legged robots. [67]
        The Boeing X-45 unmanned combat air vehicle refers to a mid-2000s concept demonstrator for autonomous military aircraft.
        CALO or "Cognitive Assistant that Learns and Organizes": software
        CPOF: the command post of the future — networked information system for Command control.
        DARPA Grand Challenge: driverless car competition
        DARPA Network Challenge [68]
        DARPA Spectrum Challenge [69]
        High Performance Knowledge Bases
        Hypersonic Research Program
        I3 (Intelligent Integration of Information), [70] supported the Digital Library research effort through NSF
        Project MAC
        Luke Arm, a DEKA creation
        MQ-1 Predator
        NLS / Augment: the origin of the canonical contemporary computer user interface
        Northrop Grumman Switchblade: an unmanned oblique-wing flying aircraft for high speed, long range and long endurance flight
        Onion routing, a technique developed in the mid-1990s and later employed by Tor to anonymize communications over a computer network.
        Passive radar
        Policy analysis market
        Rapid Knowledge Formation
        Sea shadow
        DARPA Shredder Challenge 2011 [71] - Reconstruction of shredded documents
        SIMNET: Wide area network with vehicle simulators and displays for real-time distributed combat simulation: tanks, helicopters and airplanes in a virtual battlefield.
        Strategic Computing Program
        Synthetic Aperture Ladar for Tactical Applications (SALTI)
        System F6 — Future, Fast, Flexible, Fractionated Free-flying Spacecraft United by Information Exchange — technology demonstrator: a 2006–2012 US $ 226 million technology development program. Canceled in 2013 before the notionally planned 2015 launch date. [50] [52]
        SURAN (1983–87)
        Project Vela (1963)
  15. Operator
    Operator 15 May 2016 13: 23
    "Cormorant" - whatever you call the device, so it will fly: would-be developers forgot to provide a way to control the UAV and transfer the image of the terrain on board underwater Boats laughing
  16. Belimbai
    Belimbai 16 May 2016 08: 31
    In this high-tech .... there is another problem that is difficult to compatible with the submarine fleet .... the thing is quite noisy.
  17. Engineer
    Engineer 16 May 2016 08: 56
    We are discussing the failures of the Americans, and the field itself is uncultivated in this regard.
    1. Aviagr
      Aviagr 16 May 2016 10: 20
      So those who "plow" money just do not give!
      For example, all these delights can be simpler and cheaper to implement with the help of underwater glider-rocket carriers, where instead of a rocket - like a UAV. Moreover, the glider itself will already be a relay of data from UAVs to submarines and from submarines to UAVs.
      The only drawback of this scheme: the need to place such glider-UAV_nosce glider IN ADVANCE in the right water areas. More precisely, wherever such a need may arise (and this is EVERYWHERE!), Which means the need for a large number of them, and therefore, the elaboration of the design to reduce cost. But here, like DARP, they are very fond of cutting the budget for single copies with a sky-high price.
      And the gliders should be completely different, than now. But, fortunately, foreigners still do not know the optimal design. And ours - unfortunately - so far allocate funds only for copying their old samples. This is how amateurs of amateurs support ...
  18. gridasov
    gridasov 8 October 2016 12: 10
    Similar articles are read from the final part. The works cannot be worked out because there are no fundamental solutions in the field of physics and its applied application in order to understand how to organize the physical process in a mover. Namely, in that device that can work in any medium in density. That is, water and air. And the only difference is that different rotor speeds in different environments. Therefore, propellers and propellers cannot provide this all the more because there is a mathematical pattern for changing the scale of the mover and the payload. which can be used. And this regularity needs to be leveled, understanding how to do it and due to what, theoretically and how to put it into practice.
    In general, the situation is as follows. that there is a balance of theoretical knowledge as levels of development among opponents who can neither get ahead of each other, nor friends. And the desire to spend money remains only a desire because without a breakthrough in understanding how to analyze complex processes, it is impossible to understand how the mover should work.