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 57 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.
The Agency also occasionally stands up temporary special projects offices focused on coordinating, developing and/or deploying advanced capabilities on an accelerated time scale. These efforts fall outside of DARPA’s typical program structure and leverage the Agency’s unique organization and skill sets to make rapid progress in technology areas that are critical to national security. DARPA currently operates one special projects office: the Aerospace Projects Office (APO).
DARPA paved the way for extended-range unmanned vertical takeoff and landing (VTOL) operations by sponsoring development of another Hummingbird: the A-160, a long-endurance, high-speed unmanned helicopter that flew for 18.7 hours and in 2008 set a world record for endurance in its weight class. The A-160 was part of research pursued by DARPA and the Services to produce a range of autonomous platforms that could team with people to create a more capable, agile, and cost-effective force.
Under a joint program (Teal Rain) with the U.S. Navy, DARPA funded the development of the first endurance unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV), Amber, which in 1988 flew for more than 38 straight hours and reached an altitude of 25,000 feet. The Amber demonstration featured innovations in many technologies (digital flight controls, composite materials, microprocessors, and satellite navigation) and led to the Gnat 750 and the Tier 2 Predator. DARPA also supported development of the Global Hawk, a related high-altitude UAV system. These platforms have been transformative with respect to warfighting and ISR (intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance) capabilities.
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.