Sikorsky wins DARPA X-Plane contract
Sikorsky Innovations, the technology development organisation of Sikorsky Aircraft Corp., has won a contract for Phase 1 of the vertical take-off and landing experimental aircraft (VTOL X-Plane) programme by the US Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA). The proposed effort is valued at $15 million to develop the preliminary design for the VTOL X-Plane, a high-speed vertical takeoff-and-landing aircraft with the hover capability of a helicopter.
Sikorsky Innovations is teamed with Lockheed Martin’s Skunk Works® for the VTOL X-Plane development of its unmanned rotor blown wing concept. The rotor blown wing represents a unique integration of fixed wing aerodynamics and advanced rotor control to provide a low complexity configuration capable of meeting the challenging DARPA programme goals. The contract duration is 22 months. The programme goal is to build and fly a demonstrator aircraft with first flight anticipated in the fourth quarter of 2017.
Sikorsky Innovations plans to lead the programme from its Fort Worth office, leveraging talent from both Stratford, Connecticut, and West Palm Beach, Florida, engineering centres.
The overall VTOL X-Plane programme is a 52-month, $130 million effort to fly an experimental aircraft capable of exceeding 300 kt., with a hover efficiency of 75 per cent or better and a cruise liftto-drag ratio of 10 or more. During Phase 1, Sikorsky Innovations and Lockheed Martin’s Skunk Works will conduct trade studies and develop the initial design.
“Sikorsky has a solid legacy of developing game-changing advances, and the DARPA X-Plane programe is exactly the kind of project that Sikorsky Innovations was created to execute,” said Chris VanBuiten, Vice President of Sikorsky Innovations. “We are an agile, networked team dedicated to demonstrating innovative solutions to the toughest challenges in vertical flight. This programme explores a generation of innovation that has yet to be introduced, and we have the opportunity to develop our novel design of the X-Plane concept with our partner at Skunk Works. It is an exciting project, and we are thrilled to be among the contract winners.”