Bell Awarded Funding for Phase 1B of DARPA Speed and Runway Independent Technologies (SPRINT) X-Plane Program

Bell completes the conceptual design phase for the X-plane program.

Bell Textron Inc. has been down-selected for Phase 1B of the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) Speed and Runway Independent Technologies (SPRINT) X-Plane program. The SPRINT program intends to design, build, and fly an X-Plane, an experimental aircraft to demonstrate enabling technologies and integrated concepts necessary for a transformational combination of aircraft speed and runway independence for the next generation of air mobility platforms. In Phase 1A, Bell executed a conceptual design review and will move into preliminary design efforts for the SPRINT X-plane.

“Bell is honored to be selected for the next phase of this revolutionary program and ready to execute the preliminary design,” said Jason Hurst, executive vice president of engineering at Bell. “We completed our initial risk reduction efforts with our sled test demonstration at Holloman Air Force Base, and we look forward to building on this success with our continued work with DARPA.”

Bell completed risk reduction testing at Holloman Air Force Base in late 2023, showcasing folding rotor, integrated propulsion, and flight control technologies. Bell is building on its investment in high-speed vertical takeoff and landing (HSVTOL) technology and past X-plane experience to inform the X-plane development of this program.

Bell’s HSVTOL technology blends the hover capability of a helicopter with speed (400+ kits), range, and survivability of jet aircraft. For more than 85 years, Bell has developed high-speed vertical lift technology, pioneering innovative VTOL configurations like the X-14, X-22, XV-3, and XV-15 for NASA, the U.S. Army, and the U.S. Air Force. It continues to build on its proven history of fast flight from the Bell X-1.

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