The following is an excerpt from Martin Matishak | March 8, 2016 | Thefiscaltimes.com |
The Defense Department’s list of cutting-edge aircraft with oddball designations grew by one last week when the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency unveiled the concept for its VTOL X-Plane.
Work on the Vertical Takeoff and Landing Experimental Plane began in 2013 but took a major leap forward when DARPA, the Pentagon’s innovation shop, announced it had awarded Aurora Flight Sciences an $89 million contract to build a flying prototype, dubbed LightningStrike. The goal is to be airborne by 2018.
The U.S. military has long pursued vertical takeoff aircraft that combine the characteristics of planes and helicopters. The V-22 Osprey tiltrotor aircraft has become a workhorse for the Marines, and the LightningStrike prototype is meant to push the hybrid concept further to create a plane that can fly faster, carry more and use less fuel while landing and taking off anywhere in the world, no runway needed. The unmanned aircraft is supposed to reach sustained speeds between 300 and 400 knots and carry a load of 40 percent of its gross weight of roughly 12,000 pounds.
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