Three Aiming to Fly High and Long

DARPA has just awarded contracts to three teams for its Vulture long-endurance unmanned aerial system. We reported earlier on one of the winners, Aurora Flight Sciences. The other two teams are led by Boeing and Lockheed Martin. The awards cover Phase 1 of the program and call for each team to design and develop an unmanned system “able to fly on station and perform its mission for five years without interruption,” according to an April 21 DARPA release. The agency expects the Vulture to carry a 1,000-pound payload drawing five kilowatts of power, leveraging the long-life and extreme reliability found in satellite operations and design. The first phase will extend for 12 months as the contractors determine design concepts and conclude with a concept design review of sub-scale and full-scale demonstration vehicles. According to a Boeing release, DARPA awarded the team of Boeing, QinetiQ, Versa Power Systems, and Draper Laboratory, $3.8 million for the effort.