The US Army Research Laboratory (ARL) is considering partnering with Aurora Flight Sciences on unmanned aviation technology.

Aurora Flight Sciences is involved in the development and production of advanced unmanned systems and aerospace vehicles.

The army is planning to enhance speed, endurance and payload capabilities for vertical lift platforms.

The US Department of Defense (DoD) has already provided funding in support of Aurora's technologies.

Last year, the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) contracted Aurora to build a prototype of its LightningStrike aircraft, an unmanned, hybrid-propulsion aircraft with vertical take-off and landing capabilities.

ARL Vehicle Technology Directorate acting division chief Dr Rajneesh Singh said: "It's going to fundamentally change how we look at rotorcraft.

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"In addition to its very innovative, unique design, it has several subsystem technologies that in themselves would lead to huge performance gains even for traditional rotorcraft."

"We'll work together to create a plan to continue advancing the work that has been done with the significant DoD investment."

ARL is exploring plans to sign a cooperative research and development agreement (CRADA) with Aurora.

Singh added: "We'll identify individual areas for each party to contribute and then develop a CRADA mechanism to identify individual responsibilities.

"We'll work together to create a plan to continue advancing the work that has been done with the significant DoD investment."

The ARL's ‘Open Campus’ business model enables researchers to promote cooperation with industry and academia.

The army noted another Aurora project for the US Navy and Marine Corps, which will involve the creation of an autonomous flight system that can be retrofitted to existing aircraft.

Image: An artist's concept of the XV-24A LightningStrike vertical take-off / landing experimental plane from Aurora Flight Sciences and partners Rolls-Royce and Honeywell. Photo: courtesy of Aurora Flight Sciences.