The Air Force has awarded aerospace startup JetZero a $235 million contract to build a piloted blended wing aircraft. In an announcement on Wednesday, the Air Force said it wants the full-sized prototype to finish flight testing by the end of 2027. “The effort aims to mature BWB technology and demonstrate its capabilities, giving the Department and commercial industry more options for future air platforms,” the Air Force said in a press release. The Air Force has a long history of dabbling in blended wing aircraft but said new technologies and construction techniques make them more attractive.
When it unveiled its entry to the competition earlier this year, JetZero said its design will use up to 50 percent less fuel than conventional aircraft the same size. The contract award is part of the Air Force’s overall push to be more environmentally friendly, and it has identified 60 different missions that might be suitable for a blended wing platform and make them more efficient. “This increased efficiency will enable extended range, more loiter time, and increased payload delivery efficiencies; capabilities that are vital to mitigating logistics risks,” the Air Force said.