ANCILLARY, DARPA Advancing Vertical Takeoff

DARPA recently launched its AdvaNced airCraft Infrastructure-Less Launch And RecoverY X-Plane program – called ANCILLARY. The program aims to develop and flight demonstrate critical technologies required for advancements in vertical takeoff and landing (VTOL) craft, with low-weight, high-payload, and long-endurance capabilities. The final goal of the program is to build a plane that can take off in inclement weather from ship flight decks and sparsely populated land areas, without the use of the launch and recovery equipment typically needed for these systems.

“The ability for the warfighter to deploy and retrieve such systems in challenging conditions without reliance on infrastructure would minimize personnel, costs, and vulnerability during sensitive operations,” said Steve Komadina, the DARPA program manager for ANCILLARY.

DARPA states that the recent advancements made by industry and academic technologists and researchers in small propulsion systems, high capacity, low-weight batteries, fuel cells, materials, electronics, and low-cost additive manufacturing have enabled new architectures and designs to be explored in this technological arena.

“ANCILLARY plans to use a multi-disciplinary approach that will bring together developments in advanced control theory, aerodynamic modeling, and advanced propulsion to solve a combination of challenging design objectives,” said Komadina. “The upcoming Proposers Day and Expo on September 20, 2022, will not only bring together traditional aircraft manufacturers, but also non-traditional military contractors that have been investigating commercial VTOL solutions.”