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DARPA Solicits Osprey Successor

SPRINT Program Awards Contracts to Aurora, Bell, Northrop, and Piasecki

DARPA has begun issuing contracts for the development of an experimental, next-generation VTOL transport similar to the V-22 Osprey.

So far, Piasecki Aircraft Corporation, Northrop Grumman, Bell Textron, and Aurora Flight Sciences have been granted contracts under the Speed and Runway Independent Technologies (SPRINT) program. The overall value sits somewhere in the neighborhood of $20 million. SPRINT contestants should have the prototyping and design phases completed by Q1 2027. The first phase will include the basic design, simulations, component and subsystem testing, pre-production planning, and flight testing. The second phase will see them move on to construct, ground test, and certify their designs. Finally, in the third phase, they will validate their concepts with full scale flight tests.

The goal is to provide an Osprey-like aircraft that roundly beats the V-22's current performance metrics. SPRINT program Manager Ian Higgins said that the biggest target would be for the VTOL to sport a top speed north of 400 knots, a heady improvement over the Osprey's 270-knot top speed. It won't be easy, though. Higgins admits that "going 100+ knots beyond challenges physics if you were just to use the propulsion system that's in the Osprey."

FMI: https://sam.gov/opp/9f69a1d433bb4c17a9fa2133a31be025/view#20230303


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