Undeterred by past failures, the U.S. Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (Darpa) is launching another attempt to develop a high-speed vertical-takeoff-and-landing (VTOL) aircraft with the hover capability of a helicopter. The VTOL X-Plane program is a 52-month, $130 million effort to fly an experimental aircraft capable of exceeding 300 kt., but with a hover efficiency of 75% or better and a cruise lift-to-drag ratio of 10 or more. By comparison, according to Darpa, today’s ...

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