AirAmericasDrones - Latest News, Features & Expert OpinionSea

AeroVironment Joins Design Team for DARPA’s Naval VTOL Drone

DARPA has partnered with Virginia-based drone manufacturer AeroVironment to support design works for the agency’s naval vertical takeoff and landing (VTOL) concept.

The project is part of the Pentagon’s AdvaNced airCraft Infrastructure-Less Launch And RecoverY (ANCILLARY) program, which seeks shipborne unmanned aerial systems for contested maritime operations.

Under the initiative, the company will model an offering based on its proprietary Wildcat VTOL.

The aircraft is designed for complex logistics resupply missions. It has a range of more than 2,000 nautical miles (3,700 kilometers/2,300 miles) and a top speed of 100 knots (185 kilometers/115 miles per hour).

It can fly for over 12 hours, carry up to 60 pounds (27 kilograms) of cargo, and utilize collision avoidance response when deployed as part of a multi-wildcat drone swarm.

The Wildcat will incorporate SPOTR-Edge machine learning-powered software to boost the drone’s effectiveness. The software includes consolidated operational data from flights completed by AeroVironment’s other UAS products.

Advanced Aircraft Infrastructure-less Launch And Recovery X-Plane
Artistic rendering of an Advanced Aircraft Infrastructure-less Launch And Recovery X-Plane. Image: DARPA

“Wildcat leans on autonomy to reduce operational burdens while enabling safe, infrastructure-less launch and recovery in challenging conditions from a range of Navy ships,” AeroVironment MacCready Works VP Chris Fisher stated.

“Our solutions are specifically crafted for the operator and Wildcat is no exception. [AeroVironment] has a strong history of seamlessly integrating our systems into a soldier’s daily operations and we look forward to further developing this design in partnership with DARPA and the Office of Naval Research for the ANCILLARY program.”


AeroVironment’s announcement followed DARPA’s selection of six designs from industry partners in early May.

Alongside AeroVironment’s Wildcat, the designs will be sourced from Northrop Grumman, Sikorsky, Griffon Aerospace, and Karem Aircraft.

The initial phase of this effort involved the participation of Leidos, Piasecki Aircraft, and AVX Aircraft.

Designs will culminate in a 10-month demonstrator trial and additional proposal submissions for detailed design, manufacturing, and live tests.

The resulting X-Plane is expected to achieve its maiden flight by 2026.

“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,” DARPA said during the program’s launch in 2022.

Related Articles

Back to top button