BAE Systems has secured a contract from the US Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) to design a full-scale demonstrator concept based on active flow control (AFC).

The contract is part of DARPA’s Control of Revolutionary Aircraft with Novel Effectors (CRANE) project.

Through the CRANE programme, DARPA seeks to develop an experimental aircraft (X-plane) based on AFC.

Under the contract, BAE Systems will perform design, integration, and de-risking activities such as wind tunnel testing.

Work will be performed at the company’s facilities in north-west England next year.

BAE Systems will evaluate the benefits of using AFC integrated into different air vehicle concepts.

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By GlobalData

The company did not disclose the financial details of the contract.

BAE Systems Air US Programs senior vice-president Tom Fillingham said: “BAE Systems has been at the forefront of digital design for more than 20 years.

“This award enables us to progress Active Flow Control and our digital engineering capabilities at full scale, in collaboration with DARPA and the University of Manchester in the UK.

BAE received the current contract based on its innovation showcased during MAGMA trials in 2019.

During this demonstration, a subscale aircraft manoeuvred in-flight using supersonically blown air and AFC technologies for the first time.

Fillingham added: “Since our ground-breaking MAGMA trials, our engineers across the UK, US, and Australia have continued to innovate to identify improvements in the aircraft digital design process to deliver military value and operational advantages to the warfighter.”

Recently, Aurora Flight Sciences and Lockheed Martin entered Phase I of the CRANE programme.