A Prototype of DARPA's Badass Vertical Take-Off Aircraft Can Already Fly

By Jamie Condliffe on at

Earlier this year, DARPA unveiled its latest concept design for a new vertical take-off and landing craft. Now, a working scale prototype has already made its first successful flight.

Aurora Flight Sciences has been working on the new vertical take-off aircraft—which is called LightningStrike according to The Verge—since it was awarded the second phase of the design contract. What you see in the gif above and video below is actually a one-fifth scale model, but it ably demonstrates that the new craft will be able to fly. Even if it does look rather... unusual.

The full-size version is expected to use a 4,000 horsepower engine—actually the same one as is in the existing VTOL craft the V-22 Osprey—to create 3 megawatts of electricity. In turn, that will be used to power 24 fans dotted along the airframe to create thrust. That should push it through the skies at up to 400 knots, with the ability to carry payloads that make up 40 per cent of its expected 4,536 kilo total weight.

Now Aurora just needs to build a bigger one.