Power and propulsion systems developer Wave Engine has received a contract to begin the development of its Versatile Air-Launched Platform (VALP).

Awarded by the US Air Force (USAF) Armament Directorate, the contract is part of the USAF’s efforts to develop technologies that support future aviation and aerial combat.

The company will focus on advancing its vehicle product and demonstration. The latest award follows a competitive process.

VALP multi-mission air-launched vehicle uses Wave Engine’s proprietary engine technology to provide jet performance and Full Authority Digital Electronic Control (FADEC).

It is designed to showcase affordable and high-performance propulsion for future aerial vehicles.

Wave Engine Corporation CEO Daanish Maqbool said: “The future of aircraft is smaller, more capable and more affordable.

“The aviation industry has long been stymied by the lack of high-performance engines for small aircraft, and we are here to break through this barrier.

“We’re proud to receive this highly competitive award from the USAF to bring forth this propulsion technology and help define the aviation landscape of the future.”

Wave engines use pressure waves to operate that are produced by intermittent combustion inside a hollow tube.

The company’s propulsion technology helps reduce the cost and complexity of jet propulsion, enabling its use on a range of aviation platforms.

In 2019, the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) awarded a $2.85m contract to Wave Engine to continue engine development for high-performance UAV applications.

The following year, Wave Engine’s propulsion system powered the first manned aircraft flight.