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.”

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