Boeing’s defence arm is set to unveil a mysterious new plane – and says it will ‘change future air power’
The aerospace giant’s defence arm teased the new craft, covered in a black cloth.
It is believed to be a radical new craft using electric ‘hairdryer’ to allow it to land and take off vertically.
Boeing will unveil their mystery aircraft on December 19th.
Speculation has so far said it could anything from a new spaceplane to an electric fighter jet.
Earlier this year Boeing bought Aurora Flight Sciences Corp, which is developing the autonomous, electric-powered and long-flight-duration aircraft for its commercial and military businesses.
Last year, Aurora won a contract for more than $89 million for the vertical take off and landing X-plane, beating Boeing in the process.
Aurora has designed, produced and flown more than 30 unmanned air vehicles since its inception and has collaborated with Boeing on the rapid prototyping of innovative aircraft and structural assemblies for both military and commercial applications during the last decade.
The radical design combines fixed-wing technology from planes with rotary-wing technology from helicopters.
It has two large rear wings and two smaller front canards, short wings mounted near the nose of the aircraft.
The engine would drive 24 ducted fans, nine integrated into each wing and three inside each canard.
Aurora, the firm behind the radical craft, previously told Defence One ‘there’s quite a bit of interest’ in a laser-armed version of the drone, particularly for use in Marine Corps missions.
Aurora Flight Sciences said the subscale version proved the radical theory behind the craft.
The subscale aircraft weighs 325 pounds and is a 20% scale flight model of the full scale demonstrator Aurora will build for Darpa in the next 24 months.
Boeing, meanwhile, was developing its own VTOL, known as Phantom swift – and the new craft could be a hybrid of them both.
‘The aerospace industry is going to be changing’ and the acquisition positions Boeing strategically ‘for whatever that future may be,’ Boeing Chief Technology Officer Greg Hyslop said on a conference call with reporters.
The deal could face regulatory obstacles, but the company hopes to complete the purchase this year, Hyslop said.
Boeing’s move could help Zunum Aero, a Seattle-area company aiming to bring a hybrid-electric regional airliner to market in 2022. Boeing and JetBlue Airways Corp have both made venture capital investments in Zunum.
Boeing will maintain Manassas, Virginia-based Aurora as a separate unit reporting through Boeing’s engineering, test and technology division, which is headed by Hyslop.
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