The High-Speed X-Plane That Could Revolutionize Warfare

the high-speed x-plane that could revolutionize warfare

The new Aurora X-plane. The aircraft could revolutionize warcraft, allowing military planes to cruise at 450 knots and land in tight spaces.

Boeing and its research subsidiary Aurora Flight Sciences have unveiled a new high-speed X-plane that could revolutionize warfare.

Aurora told Newsweek the X-plane, which combines the agility of Vertical Take-Off and Landing (VTOL) aircraft with the speed of a 747 jet, is "game-changing."

"Through our X-plane concept for the DARPA SPRINT program, we aim to demonstrate technologies that will enable the game-changing combination of high-speed flight with the ability to take off and land in austere environments," Larry Wirsing, vice president of aircraft development at Aurora Flight Sciences, said.

The aircraft will not be used in the field but instead will be used to test technologies for military aircraft used for Special Forces missions. The aim is to improve aircraft speed and the ability of the planes to take off from unconventional runways.

Aurora added that such technologies will allow aircraft to cruise at 400 to 450 knots (460 to 518 miles per hour) at relevant altitudes, hover in austere environments, and land in tight spaces.

Speed and agility will prove particularly useful in Special Operations Forces missions, the company said.

"Aurora and Boeing bring relevant expertise in blended-wing-body platforms, high-speed VTOL configurations, and military aircraft development," said Larry Wirsing, vice president of aircraft development at Aurora Flight Sciences. "The DARPA SPRINT program is an exciting opportunity to continue our history of advancing technology demonstrator programs that enable new capabilities for the U.S. military."

The X-plane features a sleek composite exterior and a low-drag, blended-wing body.

Aurora said three lift fans have been incorporated into the wings to enable vertical flight. These are also equipped with integrated covers that ensure a smooth transition from vertical to horizontal flight.

The company said the aircraft is also capable of super-short takeoffs and landings, as well as conventional takeoffs and touchdowns, and can carry 5,000 pounds and travel up to 450 knots (518 mph).

The new X-plane is set to be remotely piloted during testing to reduce risk. However, Aurora has said that a crew could be featured in future tests over the next 12 months, with the aim of the first flight taking place in 36 months.

This isn't the only X-plane Aurora is working on for the U.S. military. The company is also creating an X-65 plane with the purpose of demonstrating the feasibility of Active Flow Control. AFC utilizes bursts of air rather than moving flight control surfaces on the exterior of the wings and tail to control its flight.

"AFC may deliver benefits in areas such as aerodynamics, weight, and mechanical complexity," Aurora said.

"X-65 has the potential to change the future of aircraft design," Kevin Uleck, CRANE program director at Aurora, added.

Aurora expects to launch the full-scale 7,000-pound X-65 demonstrator, which can fly at 467 knots (537 mph), by summer 2025.

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