The US Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) has launched an AdvaNced airCraft Infrastructure-Less Launch And RecoverY X-Plane program, nicknamed ANCILLARY that aims to develop and flight demonstrate critical technologies required for a leap ahead in vertical takeoff and landing (VTOL), low-weight, high-payload, and long-endurance capabilities.
The goal is to build a plane that can launch from ship flight decks and small, austere land locations in adverse weather without launch and recovery equipment typically needed for these systems.
“The ability for the warfighter to deploy and retrieve such systems in challenging conditions without reliance on infrastructure would minimize personnel, costs, and vulnerability during sensitive operations,” said Steve Komadina, the DARPA program manager for ANCILLARY.
In the past few years, there has been plenty of VTOL research investments and advanced controls leading to innovative vehicle configurations spanning size, weight, power, and cost. DARPA says the advancements in small propulsion systems, high capacity, low-weight batteries, fuel cells, materials, electronics, and low-cost additive manufacturing can enable new architectures and designs to be explored in this trade space.
“ANCILLARY plans to use a multi-disciplinary approach that will bring together developments in advanced control theory, aerodynamic modeling, and advanced propulsion to solve a combination of challenging design objectives,” said Komadina.
DARPA plans to host an ANCILLARY expo day on September 20, 2022, near Washington, DC, where proposals from industry may be submitted.
“The upcoming Proposers Day and Expo on September 20, 2022, will bring not only together traditional aircraft manufactures but also non-traditional military contractors that have been investigating commercial VTOL solutions,” Komadina said.