Rotorcraft Report: DARPA Pursues Disc Rotor Development

By Staff Writer | October 1, 2008
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The U.S. Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency intends to award a sole-source contract to Boeing for continued development of a "disc rotor" aircraft.

The DiscRotor concept is an aircraft with a relatively small, hub-mounted disc that can extend rotor blades to affect vertical flight. Boeing conducted a "Phase 0" research effort under a DARPA seedling/concept study contract. That contract had been competitively selected in response to DARPA BAA 06-15 "Tactical Technology Office" tender.

Under that Phase 0 contract, Boeing teamed with Virginia Polytechnical Institute to conducted DiscRotor trade studies, design refinement, mechanical systems conceptual layout, wind tunnel testing, hover rig testing, computational fluid dynamics (CFD) analysis and risk reduction planning. They provided an initial assessment of performance and flying qualities. The proposed DiscRotor Phase I Program effort is a logical follow-on to that effort and will draw on lessons learned from Boeing’s earlier Canard Rotor Wing program.


Phase I is to include enabling-technology demonstrations, including wind tunnel testing of a small-scale (manually) extendable rotor system and, subsequently, a large-scale (automatically) extendable rotor system. The aim of that is to establish critical feasibility of the DiscRotor concept. Additionally, Boeing team is to conduct DiscRotor configuration and performance refinement, consider mission survivability issues, and develop options for a flying DiscRotor demonstrator.

The contract would cover supplies or services for which the government intends to solicit and negotiate with only one source under authority of FAR 6.302-1 "Only one responsible source and no other supplies or services will satisfy agency requirements." As the developer of the DiscRotor concept, DARPA said, the Boeing team "possesses unique knowledge, capabilities and proprietary intellectual property/data required to carry out the required research effort." It said the notice of intent to do so "is not a request for competitive proposals.." Other interested parties may identify their interest in and capability to respond to the DARPA requirement.

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