Aurora Flies Small-Scale LightningStrike UAV

April 18, 2016
By George I. Seffers
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DARPA program successfully meets a key risk reduction requirement.

Aurora Flight Sciences, Manassas, Virginia, announced today company personnel successfully flew a subscale version of its LightningStrike vertical take-off and landing experimental plane (VTOL X-plane) for the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA). The flight of the subscale aircraft met a DARPA risk reduction requirement, focusing on validation of the aerodynamic design and flight control system.

"The successful subscale aircraft flight was an important and exciting step for Aurora and our customer," said Tom Clancy, Aurora's chief technology officer, in the written announcement. "Our design's distributed electric propulsion system involves breaking new ground with a flight control system requiring a complex set of control effectors. This first flight is an important, initial confirmation that both the flight controls and aerodynamic design are aligning with our design predictions."

The subscale aircraft weighs 325 pounds and is a 20 percent scale flight model of the full-scale demonstrator Aurora will build for DARPA in the next 24 months. Having successfully completed the subscale demonstrator flight, Aurora's LightningStrike team will focus during the next year on further validation of the flight control system and configuration of the full-scale VTOL X-Plane demonstrator.


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