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Northrop Grumman unveils XRQ-73 SHEPARD hybrid stealth drone demonstrator 

Northrop Grumman Corporation has unveiled the design and construction of the Series Hybrid Electric Propulsion AiRcraft Demonstration (SHEPARD) vehicle.

The uncrewed air system, developed for the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), has officially received its X-plane designation: XRQ-73. This DARPA “X-prime” program aims to rapidly develop a new mission-focused aircraft for the US Department of Defense. 

Built in collaboration with Northrop Grumman’s subsidiary Scaled Composites, the Unmanned Aerial System is expected to weigh approximately 1,250 pounds (567 kilograms) and leverages hybrid electric architecture and advanced component technologies. Its first flight is anticipated by the end of 2024. 

“The idea behind a DARPA X-prime program is to take emerging technologies and burn down system-level integration risks to quickly mature a new missionized long endurance aircraft design that can be fielded quickly,” said Steve Komadina, SHEPARD Program Manager at DARPA. “The SHEPARD program is maturing a specific propulsion architecture and power class as an exemplar of potential benefits for the Department of Defense.” 

The prime contractor for SHEPARD is Northrop Grumman’s Aeronautics Systems sector in Redondo Beach, California, with Scaled Composites and several other suppliers contributing to the project. The DARPA team includes members from the US Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL), and the Office of Naval Research (ONR).  

The post Northrop Grumman unveils XRQ-73 SHEPARD hybrid stealth drone demonstrator  appeared first on AeroTime.

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