TYPE: Technology demonstrator.

PROGRAMME: Oblique Flying Wing (OFW) project announced 23 March 2006 with award of USD10.3 million, 20-month DARPA Phase 1 contract to Northrop Grumman Integrated Systems. Purpose is to design an experimental, tail-less, supersonic, variable-sweep flying wing, nicknamed Switchblade, to demonstrate feasibility of such an aircraft for future military missions. Two such missions typified in 2005 programme document: (1) intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR) with range of 5,000 n miles (9,260 km; 5,753 miles) at subsonic speed at 18,280 m (60,000 ft) with a 1,814 kg (4,000 lb) payload; and (2) bombing misston at same range with 6,804 kg (15,000 lb) payload, cruising at M1.6 and with dash speed of M2.0.
First phase ends in November 2007 and will include recommendations on whether OFW will be manned, unmanned or both; could be followed by second phase to finalise design, build and fly prototype in about 2010 or 2011. Wing span of this expected to be "at least 12 m" (39.4 ft), according to DARPA.

DESIGN FEATURES: Depending upon its speed, aircraft would vary angle of wing’s leading-edge relative to the direction of flight: relatively low sweep at low speeds to highly swept at high speeds, reducing supersonic wave drag. Theoretically, an OFW could maximise its performance in every flight regime – take-off or landing, high or low altitude, supersonic or subsonic speed – offering potential benefits for missions requiring rapid deployment, long range and long endurance.
All previous oblique wing or oblique flying wing research aircraft have been subsonic. As well as being supersonic, the Switchblade demonstrator will be the first such aircraft with no tail surfaces.