The US Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) has unveiled a concept design video for its unmanned Vertical Takeoff and Landing (VTOL) experimental X-Plane.
The concept, which was designed by Aurora Flight Sciences and awarded the second phase design contract for DARPA's VTOL experimental plane program, includes a turboshaft engine capable of pushing out 3 megawatts (4,000 horsepower) of electrical power.
The electric power will keep 24 ducted fans running, and these will allow the plane to lift-off and land like a helicopter, but also transition to forward flight like a normal jet plane.
Among other criteria, DARPA is hoping this hybrid aircraft design will be able to reach a top sustained flight speed of 300 to 400 knots and carry a load of at least 40% of its gross weight (estimated to be 10,000 - 12,000 pounds).
"Imagine electric aircraft that are more quiet, fuel-efficient and adaptable and are capable of runway-independent operations," said Ashish Bagai, DARPA's program manager.
"We want to open up whole new design and mission spaces freed from prior constraints, and enable new VTOL aircraft systems and subsystems."
DARPA aims to begin testing the flight demonstrator aircraft by 2018. You can check out the concept video for the plane below.
Top image credit: DARPA