The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) has selected Sikorsky Aircraft Corporation to develop active rotor technologies, which will enable aircraft to adapt to a changing environment and dynamically enhance performance.

The project is made up of three phases starting with a $5.9m contract for phase I that runs for 16 months, during which, the company will focus on a robust design of the mission-adaptive rotor system.

The second phase will involve validation of the design and ground testing, while the third will entail flight testing.

Both these phases will be awarded by DARPA at the conclusion of phase I.

Sikorsky Research and Engineering vice-president Mark Miller said adaptive rotor technologies had the potential to vastly improve performance, and reduce vibration and noise.

“We are developing the next-generation helicopter, an intelligent and adaptive helicopter that can become aware of its surroundings, identify the proximity of a threat, adjust in brownout situations and respond appropriately,” he said.

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The development programme for rotor technologies is expected to create new options for the next generation of aircraft and retrofit possibilities for the existing fleet.