Aerial Warfare

Bell Awarded Funding for Phase 1B of US DARPA SPRINT X-Plane Program

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Bell Awarded Funding for Phase 1B of US DARPA SPRINT X-Plane Program

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Bell Awarded Funding for Phase 1B of US DARPA SPRINT X-Plane Program
Bell Awarded Funding for Phase 1B of US DARPA SPRINT X-Plane Program

Bell Textron Inc., a Textron Inc. company, has been down-selected for Phase 1B of U.S. Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) Speed and Runway Independent Technologies (SPRINT) X-Plane program. The SPRINT program intends to design, build, and fly an X-Plane, an experimental aircraft to demonstrate enabling technologies and integrated concepts necessary for a transformational combination of aircraft speed and runway independence for the next generation of air mobility platforms. In Phase 1A, Bell executed conceptual design review and will move into preliminary design efforts for the SPRINT X-plane. Bell completed risk reduction testing at Holloman Air Force Base in late 2023, showcasing folding rotor, integrated propulsion, and flight control technologies.

The SPRINT X-plane is intended to be a proof-of-concept technology demonstrator and its flight test program seeks to validate enabling technologies that can be scaled to different size military aircraft. Bell is building on its investment in High-Speed Vertical Takeoff and Landing (HSVTOL) technology and past X-plane experience to inform the X-plane development for this program. Bell’s HSVTOL technology blends the hover capability of a helicopter with the speed (400+ kts), range, and survivability of jet aircraft. Bell has developed high-speed vertical lift technology for more than 85 years, pioneering innovative VTOL configurations like the X-14, X-22, XV-3 and XV-15 for NASA, the U.S. Army and U.S. Air Force, and continues to build on its proven history of fast flight from the Bell X-1.

Bell’s High-Speed Vertical Takeoff and Landing (HSVTOL) aircraft. (Photo by Bell Textron)
Bell’s High-Speed Vertical Takeoff and Landing (HSVTOL) aircraft. (Photo by Bell Textron)

“Bell is honored to be selected for the next phase of this revolutionary program and ready to execute preliminary design. We completed our initial risk reduction efforts with our sled test demonstration at Holloman Air Force Base, and we look forward to building on this success with our continued work with DARPA,” said Jason Hurst, executive vice president, Engineering, Bell.

Bell Textron Inc. is an American aerospace manufacturer headquartered in Fort Worth, Texas. A subsidiary of Textron, Bell manufactures military rotorcraft at facilities in Fort Worth, and Amarillo, Texas, United States as well as commercial helicopters in Mirabel, Quebec, Canada. Textron purchased Bell Aerospace in 1960. Bell Aerospace was composed of three divisions of Bell Aircraft Corporation, including its helicopter division, which had become its only division still producing complete aircraft. The helicopter division was renamed Bell Helicopter Company and in a few years, with the success of the UH-1 Huey during the Vietnam War, it had established itself as the largest division of Textron. In January 1976, Textron changed the division’s name to Bell Helicopter Textron. The company was rebranded as “Bell” on February 22, 2018.

Bell Awarded Funding for Phase 1B of US DARPA SPRINT X-Plane Program
Bell’s High-Speed Vertical Takeoff and Landing (HSVTOL) aircraft. (Photo by Bell Textron)

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