The Air Force Research Lab’s Air Vehicles Directorate has received an “intent to propose” from several contractors who are interested in pursuing design, development, and manufacture of an Advanced Composite Cargo Aircraft flight demonstrator. Project Manager Barth Shenk told the Daily Report Tuesday that this is not an acquisition program; rather it’s a capstone program to demonstrate new applications for composite technology. And, of primary concern is the structural makeup of the demonstrator, not its aerodynamic capability. “We wanted to provide a means of taking component technologies that we’ve developed over the years and integrate them” into a demo airframe, said Shenk, adding that a secondary consideration is to “exploit both the materials and the manufacturing processes … to see what efficiencies we can get.” Among companies expressing interest are Acra Control in Ohio, Alenia North America, Lockheed Martin, Piasecki Aircraft Corp. in Pennsylvania, Pratt & Whitney, SpaceForm Inc. in Detroit, TGV Rockets Inc. in Oklahoma, and Voyager Aerospace Corp., in California.
The U.S. supports “a stronger and more capable” European defense, Defense Secretary Lloyd J. Austin III said during an Oct. 22 press conference in Brussels—but that defense should not duplicate the functions and capabilities of the NATO alliance.