Fort Worth, Texas-based Sikorsky Innovations, the technology development arm of Stratford-based Sikorsky Aircraft Corp., this month won a contract for Phase 1 of the Vertical Take-Off and Landing Experimental Aircraft (VTOL X-Plane) program run by the U.S. Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA).
The $15 million Sikorsky effort will develop the preliminary design. Sikorsky Aircraft Corp. is a subsidiary of Hartford-based United Technologies Corp. and is the largest employer in Fairfield County. Local workers will be involved in the project.
The VTOL X-Plane is seen as a high-speed, vertical-takeoff-and-landing aircraft with the hover capability of a helicopter.
Sikorsky Innovations teamed with Lockheed Martin’s Skunk Works for the VTOL X-Plane’s wing development. The so-called “Rotor Blown Wing” is said to present a solution to DARPA program goals. The goal is to build and fly a demonstrator aircraft by 4Q 2017.
The contract duration is 22 months.
Sikorsky Innovations plans to lead the program from its Fort Worth office, leveraging talent from both its Stratford and West Palm Beach, Fla., engineering centers.
The overall VTOL X-Plane program is a 52-month, $130 million effort. During Phase 1, Sikorsky Innovations and Lockheed Martin’s Skunk Works will conduct trade studies and develop the initial design.
“Sikorsky has a solid legacy of developing game-changing advances, and the DARPA X-Plane program is exactly the kind of project that Sikorsky Innovations was created to execute,” said Chris VanBuiten, vice president of Sikorsky Innovations. “This program explores a generation of innovation that has yet to be introduced and we have the opportunity to develop our novel design of the X-Plane concept with our partner at Skunk Works. It is an exciting project, and we are thrilled to be among the contract winners.”