High-speed VTOL project for DARPA signs four firmsNews
December 28, 2023
ARLINGTON, Va. The U.S. Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) chose four companies to develop a vertical takeoff and landing (VTOL) craft that operates at highers speeds than the current V-22 Osprey tiltrotor military aircraft.
Under the auspices of the Speed and Runway Independent Technologies (SPRINT) program, DARPA aims to design, manufacture, and fly an aircraft that combines high-speed capabilities and runway independence.
DARPA -- together with partner agency U.S. Special Operations Command (USSOCOM) -- named Aurora Flight Sciences, Bell Textron, Northrop Grumman Aeronautical Systems, and Piasecki Aircraft to participate in Phase 1A of the initiative. According to DARPA's statement, the resulting VTOL aircraft will serve as a proof-of-concept demonstrator for associated flight-test programs and related concepts that can be produced in different sizes.
DARPA officials stated that metrics for the prototype require a cruise speed between 400 to 450 knots (740 to 833 kph/460 to 518 mph) and must be able to maneuver at relevant altitudes, hover in unconventional environments, and operate on unpaved surfaces if needed.
The DARPA announcement puts the total value for these four initial-phase contracts at between $15 million and $20 million, with a timeline of spring of 2027 for first flight of the VTOL.