Piasecki Aircraft Corporation, a global producer of rotorcraft and aerial vehicles, has announced that it has been awarded a USD37 million multi-year contract by AFWERX, the Air Force’s innovation arm in conjunction with the Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL), as part of its Strategic Funding Increase (STRATFI) program. The company says the award will enable Piasecki to flight demonstrate its Aerial Reconfigurable Embedded System (ARES) tilt-duct vertical takeoff and landing (VTOL) unmanned aerial system (UAS) as well as hydrogen fuel cell propulsion technologies for VTOL and other aviation applications.
According to a press release the funding will support Piasecki R&D programs, including:
“Aerial Reconfigurable Embedded System (ARES) – ARES is a modular multi-mission tilt duct VTOL vehicle that can be operated unmanned (UAS) or with an optional manned flight module. ARES is designed with a small landing footprint to enable shipboard and expeditionary operations as well as provide embedded multi-mission C4I, ISR, combat, and logistics support to small distributed combat forces operating over extended distances and in complex terrain. Rapidly-reconfigurable Mission Payload Modules deliver mission flexibility that significantly reduces overall logistics footprint and cost. The ARES Demonstration Vehicle was produced in partnership with Lockheed Martin with funding from DARPA. With follow-on funding from the U.S. Air Force and Army, Piasecki and Honeywell are integrating a triplex fly-by-wire flight control system to initiate ARES flight testing by the end of this year.
“Hydrogen Fuel Cell Propulsion System – Piasecki is collaborating with ZeroAvia, a leader in hydrogen-electric aviation, to develop and implement its revolutionary High Temperature Proton Exchange Membrane (HTPEM) hydrogen fuel cell technology for PA-890 and other VTOL applications. The PA-890 eVTOL aircraft is expected to be the first zero-emission hydrogen-powered compound helicopter. The slowed-rotor winged helicopter is intended for use in a variety of missions including Emergency Medical Services (EMS), delivery of high-value On-Demand Logistics (ODL), On-Demand Mobility (ODM) personnel air transport, and many other commercial applications across the $40 billion commercial light helicopter market. In addition to zero carbon emissions, the PA-890 eVTOL enables up to a 50% reduction in direct operating cost and reduced noise compared with today’s fossil fuel turbine helicopters – and significantly greater range compared with all-electric helicopters.”
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