On Thursday, DARPA has announced that it has assigned the phase 2 design contract to Aurora Flight Sciences (AFS) for its amazing VTOL X-Plane concept. The Vertical Take-Off & Landing planes would be much similar to the current F-35B Lightning II or V-22 Osprey. It will have to trade off between various mission requirements such as fuel efficiency versus power or flight speed versus range. DARPA is much hopeful that it will be able in making this VTOL platform more operational on the battlefield with X-Plane. This new demonstrator aircraft is giving hopes to DARPA in getting the specific flight speed estimated between 300 to 400 knots and hover efficiency is estimated at more than 75 percent. It would boost its cruise lift-to-drag ratio to 10 and it is powerful as compared to V-22, which was 5 to 6.
It has the ability to carry more than 10,000 pound gross weight. The concept of AFS would add the some 4,000 Horsepower engine, which was used in V-22 in order to generate 3 MW electrical powers and it would drive the 24 ductless fans mounted on its front canards and rear wings. These fans have the capability to rotate as mentioned in the image. It would enable the X-Plane to seamlessly transition from a hover to forward flight. The VTOL X-Plane will not be available for commercial production for the next few years. The program manager of DARPA, Ashish Bagai indicated that this aircraft is more quiet, efficient in fuel and capable of runway-free operations. We are making an entire new design and different from prior manufactured planes. AFS declared that it would be available in the year 2018 for commercial production.