REALITY AT LAST
This Gizmodo story on Lockheed Martin's project "Cormorant", from it's legendary, Skunk Works unit, has to be a thrill for every fan of the 1960s "Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea"TV series. Here's the crux of the story:
"After the START II—the second strategic weapons reduction treaty with the former URSS—was signed, the US Navy had to reconvert many of their Ohio-class nuclear submarines, giving new uses to their missile bays.
They talked with Lockheed Martin about it, who came with the idea of the Cormorant: a Halo-looking plane that launches from a submerged submarine, does its mission stealthy and then returns to the water, where it's retrieved by a robot. As the video shows, the idea looks out of a sci-fi movie".
There are a couple of must-see videos in the story that are about 4 minutes long, that vividly illustrate the concept from start to finish.
Especially cool after the computer graphics-generated (CGI) video of the concept, are the actual scale models being flown and recovered by the Lockheed Martin team in real, outdoor conditions.
The weakest part of the Cormorant concept seems to be the recovery method for the vehicle, as the Gizmodo story explains:
"When it reaches the programmed rendezvous point, the engine stops, a parachute deploys, and it falls into the water to wait for the submarine to retrieve it. The submarine, however, doesn't have to come to the surface at any time.
Instead, it would launch another robot, which will hook the Cormorant to the sub using a cable. The submarine will then two the plane down and put it back in its bay."
But it still looks like a cool and useful concept, especially near mission areas where the armed services cannot fly drones in and out of from land or via very visible aircraft carrier groups.
The difference between that vehicle and the Cormorant is of course, that the FS-1 was a manned vehicle, and didn't need a cumbersome recovery process when the plane returned to the water.
Another example of how much more advanced our technology was back in the latter part of the 20th century, as compared to the early 21st century.