skip to main content

Update: USAF selects JetZero for large blended wing body demonstrator

A conceptual image of JetZero's blended wing body aircraft. (JetZero)

On 16 August the US Air Force (USAF) announced its selection of JetZero to build and flight test a large blended wing body testbed.

The experimental aircraft is scheduled to fly in 2027.

Blended wing body aircraft, by generating lift with the fuselage in addition to the wings, have significant fuel efficiency and short take-off advantages over conventional aircraft. Although the blended wing body concept has been demonstrated at small scales and in wind tunnels, no such aircraft have been built large enough to carry people or cargo.

JetZero's demonstrator is intended to be the size of a large narrowbody commercial aircraft, roughly the size of a Boeing 757. The demonstrator is intended to reduce fuel burn by up to 50% in comparison with a similar tube-and-wing design.

“We know that operational energy is going to be a critical factor; it's going to be the margin of victory in a near-peer competition, particularly in the Pacific,” said Ravi Choudhary, the USAF's assistant secretary for energy, installations, and environment. “We know that in the air force, energy is everything. How we collect, manage, and discharge that energy in order to be decisive is going to be critical.”

The USAF is to fund the aircraft with USD40 million in fiscal year 2023, with an additional USD200 million over the four-year design and construction schedule. An undisclosed amount is to be contributed by JetZero and unnamed partners.

JetZero has contracted Northrop Grumman as a missions systems subcontractor, and Scaled Composites, a Northrop Grumman subsidiary known for innovative composite designs, is to build the one-off demonstrator.

Looking to read the full article?

Gain unlimited access to Janes news and more...