Aurora Flight Sciences Awarded $89 Million for New Hybrid-Electric VTOL Prototype by the Pentagon
Aurora Flight Sciences Awarded $89 Million for New Hybrid-Electric VTOL Prototyp

The Pentagon has awarded Aurora Flight Sciences an $89 million contract to prototype a new VTOL or vertical take-off and landing aircraft which is a part of the X-Plane project by the DARPA or Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency.

Reportedly, it was a big win for Aurora, as it left behind big names in the industry such as Sikorsky and Boeing for the project.

Called LightningStrike, Aurora's VTOL is an unmanned craft which proves to be innovative in many ways. Starting right from its look, it appears to be something from a different world. The aircrafts primary wings are designed in the rear with a couple of smaller forewings close to the nose.

The plane, which will be propelled mainly electrically rather than mechanically, has two dozen ducted fans arranged along the wings. The electricity to run the aircraft will be generated onboard by the same engine that that powers the V-22 Osprey; a Rolls-Royce T406. The aircraft will be lighter and more reliable owing to its "hybrid-electric" design.

It is likely that the prototype of LighningStrike will fly in the sky after about two years, in 2018. However, competition might grow till then, as Tesla's CEO Elon Musk said last month that a fully-electric VTOL jet might be on his list of major future projects.