PHOTO CAPTION: Aurora Flight Sciences one-fifth scale RC model of LightningStrike hybrid-electric VTOL.

Aurora Successfully Flies Scale Model VTOL X-Plane

The 400kg, sub-scale model successful flies on in first outdoors test, taking off vertically on its

Published: 20-Apr-2016

The US Defense Advanced Research and Project Agency (DARPA) thinks there's a better, more efficient way to help an aircraft take-off vertically, eliminating the need for long, expensive and vulnerable runways. It's electric and DARPA contractor Aurora Flight Systems successfully flew its one-fifth (20%) "sub-scale" version of the LightningStrike UAV to prove the concept.

Powered solely by batteries, the radio-controlled model successfully launched and hovered in place as seen in the video below. For forward flight, the ducted fan 'wings' and canard, which were formed out of a combination of carbon fiber and 3D printed plastics, rotate horizontally. There are 18 electric fans in the 'wing' section and 6 in the canard.

A future, full-scale version of the unmanned drone, will be powered by a combination of a Rolls Royce turbine and 3 megaWatt electric generator. Top speed for the aircraft would be somewhere between 300-400 mph.

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