Senior Prom

Senior Prom

Senior Prom is a still-classified U.S. Air Force program to develop a stealth unmanned aerial reconnaissance vehicle (and possibly as a cruise missile), designed to be launched from a DC-130, B-52, or B-1.

Development

Origin of Design

The program began in the late 1970s after the success of Lockheed's Have Blue program. The Senior Prom vehicle's design was based on and resembled a scaled-down F-117.

The lack of a cockpit meant the vehicle's profile was a bit flatter than the F-117. The craft initially had a large vertical fin, but later photos indicate that the ventral fin was removed and converted to a V-tail. The wings appear to be able to fold against the body to save space. It is believed this craft was powered by a single turbofan engine.

Testing

Beginning in October 1978, six Senior Prom prototypes were launched from DC-130 carrier aircraft. Thirteen successful tests of Senior Prom were conducted over the Groom Lake air base in Nevada, proving undetectable to the SPS-13 RADAR. The program was ended in 1981, reportedly due to its size restricting its ability to be carried by a B-1 bomber.

Operational Use

The Senior Prom UAV is rumored to have been flown over Warsaw Pact nations during the Cold War, over Baghdad during the Gulf War, and over North Korea.

References

  • http://www.lowobservable.com/missiles.htm
  • http://www.newsmax.com/archives/articles/2005/2/10/202311.shtml
  • http://www.aviationnow.com/avnow/noys/noys_story.jsp?id=news/02145p04.xml
  • http://www.designation-systems.net/dusrm/app4/senior-prom.html

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