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Aurora awarded DARPA VTOL X-Plane contract

7th February 2014 - 14:27 GMT | by The Shephard News Team


Aurora Flight Sciences has confirmed that it will build its LightningStrike Vertical Takeoff and Landing aircraft for DARPA’s VTOL X-Plane programme. The company has been awarded a Phase 1 contract for the programme, which aims to radically improve the performance of VTOL aircraft.

Aurora has designed LightningStrike with efficient hover and high speed capabilities to meet DARPA’s ambitious goals for performance and useful load capacity.

The aircraft leverages Aurora’s flight proven VTOL technology, to achieve improved efficiencies by tightly integrating propulsion into the air vehicle’s aerodynamic design.

Sikorsky is also taking part in the programme, having announced its Phase 1 contract in December. Sikorsky Innovations has teamed with Lockheed Martin's Skunk Works for the contract to develop its unmanned Rotor Blown Wing (RBW) concept. This concept integrates fixed wing aerodynamics and advanced rotor control to provide a low complexity configuration capable of meeting the DARPA programme goals.

The VTOL X-Plane programme is scheduled for three phases over 52 months between October 2013 and February 2018, with the first demonstration flight slated for 42 months after the initial award. The total planned budget is $130 million; DARPA has allotted $47 million in Phase I for multiple individual awards for preliminary concept design and technology maturation. DARPA intends to choose one of the Phase I prime performers to conduct Phase II (design, development and integration) and Phase III (flight-test demonstrations).

The Shephard News Team


The Shephard News Team

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