US Air Force to invest in ‘Blended Wing Body’ transport aircraft

Start-up JetZero will receive a contribution of US$ 235 million to build a full-scale prototype of a jet with the concept, capable of reducing fuel consumption by at least 30%.

The US Air Force (USAF) has given a decisive push to make the BWB (Blended Wing Body) concept a reality.

Through the Department of Defense, the service announced the investment of US$ 235 million in the start-up JetZero, which will build a full-scale demonstrator with the goal of flying for the first time in early 2027.

The BWB concept has been studied for many decades and consists of configuring an aircraft with a wing-shaped fuselage. The result is a kind of flying wing, but with a more voluminous central part, to accommodate passengers, cargo and fuel.

JetZero’s concept aircraft is expected to fly for the first time in early 2027 (JetZero)

The advantage of the configuration is that it generates high lift and low drag, resulting in fuel savings of at least 30%. Therefore, an aircraft with this format can in theory fly further and be more efficient since it also has a generous internal volume.

The Pentagon’s interest in the civilian project has an explanation. The USAF is looking for aircraft that can replace its freighters like the C-17 and also aerial refueling planes in the future.

Hydrogen version in the plans

Secretary of the Air Force Frank Kendall justified the investment by explaining that “moving forces and cargo quickly, efficiently, and over long distance is a critical capability to enable national security strategy.”

No less than 60% of the USAF’s aviation fuel expenditure comes from the transport aircraft fleet.

Boeing X-48B Blended Wing Body concept (USAF)

JetZero’s BWB jet prototype will use available technology such as Pratt & Whitney’s GFT engines, in addition to support from Northrop Grumman and Scaled Composites, manufacturers with experience in assembling experimental aircraft.

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The aircraft is also being designed to be adapted for the use of hydrogen in the future, in line with the goals of zero carbon emissions.


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