Lockheed unveil next generation HWB airlifter concept

Aviation Week revealed Lockheed Martin's next generation airlifter design called the Hybrid Wing Body (HWB) concept, that promises drastic reduction in operating cost.

The HWB will be capable of carrying all out sized cargo now carried by USAF's largest airlifter C-5, while burning 70 percent less fuel than the Boeing C-17 airlifter.

The HWB design combines a blended wing and forebody with a conventional C-17 type aft fuselage and tail section, powered by two engines.

Major contributor to the fuel efficiency is the very high by pass turbofan engines, which are mounted over the wing, to maintain low ground clearance requisite for an airlifter.

Despite its blended wing design, the HWB maintains a pressurized circular fuselage cross section and features unpressurized cargo bays in the inboard wing section.

To reduce cost, the airlifter will be designed with compatibility to existing ground support equipments and operations.

Lockheed says it also studying a tanker/transport variant of HWB, which will be 15 percent efficient than the USAF's newest KC-46A.

Lockheed plans to validate the design using a 4 percent scale unmanned demonstrator in 2016, and a large scale demonstrator by 2020. If pursued, the airlifter could enter service by 2035.

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