Aurora to design, build experimental VTOL aircraft

Feb. 5, 2014 at 2:38 PM
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MANASSAS, Va., Feb. 5 (UPI) -- The U.S. Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency has tapped Aurora Flight Sciences to design and build an experimental VTOL aircraft.

The Phase I contract, for which a value was not given, is for Aurora's LightningStrike, an experimental vertical takeoff and landing aircraft [VTOL] that the company says meets DARPA's hover and high-speed requirements set out in the agency's VTOL X-Plane program.

Aurora's innovative VTOL X-Plane, known as LightningStrike, is designed for efficient hover and high speed, meeting DARPA's ambitious goals for performance and useful load capacity," the company said. "LightningStrike leverages Aurora's flight-proven VTOL technology and achieves high overall efficiency by tightly integrating propulsion into the air vehicle's aerodynamic design."

Aurora, which designs and builds robotic aircraft and other advanced aerospace vehicles for scientific and military applications, says design work for the Phase I award will take place at its facility in Manassas, Va. The plane itself will be built in Columbus, Miss.

Additional details of the award were not disclosed.

DARPA has a planned budget of $130 million for the entire program, which extends to February of 2018. On the agency's website, it says it has allotted $47 million in Phase I for multiple individual awards for preliminary concept design and technology maturation.

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