DARPA Unveils Six Design Concepts for a Low-weight, Large-payload, Long-endurance UAV

The six companies will mature X-plane designs, with concentration on reducing system risks through refined higher fidelity design and analysis and by conducting component and configuration hover testing.
  • Defensemirror.com Bureau
  • 06:23 PM, May 23, 2024
  • 867
DARPA Unveils Six Design Concepts for a Low-weight, Large-payload, Long-endurance UAV
ANCILLARY design concept renderings from all six performers.image courtesy: @DARPA

ANCILLARY, DARPA's program for Advanced Aircraft Infrastructure-Less Launch And RecoverY, unveils six design concepts for a low-weight, large-payload, long-endurance VTOL uncrewed X-plane.

The configurations and technology designs come from a wide array of performers, from small start-up to legacy aerospace companies, broadening the network of partners contributing to the program.

Steve Komadina, DARPA program manager for ANCILLARY said,"ANCILLARY aims to triple small vertical take-off and landing (VTOL) unmanned aerial system (UAS) capabilities. This involves enhancing payload weight and range/endurance while eliminating the need for special infrastructure."

In Phase Ib, performers will continue testing an X-plane demonstrator to validate technologies for a future operational UAS. This UAS will deploy and be retrieved from Navy ships without large mechanical launchers or landing equipment. It must vertically take off and land from ship flight decks and remote land locations in various weather conditions, efficiently completing missions with a significant payload capacity.

“A network of these UAS from ships to conduct beyond-line-of-sight F2T2 (find, fix, track, target) of surface vessels of interest for the ship commander, benefiting diverse missions across Navy, Marine, Army, Air Force, Special Operations Command, and Coast Guard.ANCILLARY's operational capabilities will be complemented by advancements in sensors, electronic warfare, autonomy, and artificial intelligence developed within the Department of Defense's research and engineering organizations." said Komadina.

In Phase Ia, the ANCILLARY team explored conceptual designs from nine non-traditional and traditional military companies.

In Phase Ib, six companies – AeroVironment, Griffon Aerospace, Karem Aircraft, Method Aeronautics, Northrop Grumman, and Sikorsky – will mature X-plane designs, with concentration on reducing system risks through refined higher fidelity design and analysis and by conducting component and configuration hover testing. At the end of this 10-month phase, teams will submit competitive proposals for Phase II detailed design, fabrication, and flight testing.

The project is expected to culminate with X-plane flight tests starting in early 2026.

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