Defense Advanced Research Projects AgencyTagged Content List

Air Systems

Manned and unmanned aerial systems, including fixed-wing and rotary-wing aircraft and supporting technologies

Showing 45 results for Air + Unmanned RSS
DARPA launched the Aerospace Projects Office (APO) in 2015 in response to a new Defense Department initiative, the Aerospace Innovation Initiative (AII), which aims to ensure that the United States can maintain air dominance in future contested environments. The AII includes a new program, AII-X, tasked with designing and demonstrating advanced aircraft technologies. The AII-X program is being led by DARPA, and the APO is its home.
In addition to the six technical offices that manage the Agency’s research portfolio, DARPA operates the Adaptive Execution Office , a support office chartered to accelerate the transition of game-changing DARPA technologies into Department of Defense capabilities. AEO provides DARPA with robust connections to the warfighter community and assists the Agency with the planning and execution of technology demonstrations and field trials to promote adoption by the Services.
In an in-air demonstration in 2007, DARPA teamed up with NASA to show that high-performance aircraft can easily perform automated refueling from conventional tankers. The 2007 demonstration was not entirely automated, however: a pilot was on board to set conditions and monitor safety during autonomous refueling operations.
Effective 21st-century warfare requires the ability to conduct airborne intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR) and strike mobile targets anywhere, around the clock. Current technologies, however, have their limitations. Helicopters are relatively limited in their distance and flight time. Fixed-wing manned and unmanned aircraft can fly farther and longer but require either aircraft carriers or large, fixed land bases with runways often longer than a mile. Moreover, establishing these bases or deploying carriers requires substantial financial, diplomatic and security commitments that are incompatible with rapid response.
U.S. military experience has shown that rugged terrain and threats such as ambushes and Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs) can make ground-based transportation to and from the front lines a dangerous challenge. Combat outposts require on average 100,000 pounds of material a week, and high elevation and impassable mountain roads often restrict access. Helicopters are one solution, but the supply of available helicopters can’t meet the demand for their services, which cover diverse operational needs including resupply, tactical insertion and extraction, and casualty evacuation.