The aim of this project is to create a more efficient and long-range aircraft for military use, specifically for tankers and cargo planes. There is also potential for the design to be adapted for commercial airline use in the future.
Tom O’Leary, the CEO and co-founder of JetZero, acknowledged that the US Air Force award falls short of covering the development and production of a full-scale prototype, but should speed up technological advancements.
“While our total funding is not public, we will be having private investment and partners contributing to that,” O’Leary said in a press briefing on August 16, 2023.
JetZero has partnered with aerospace and defense company Northrop Grumman on the project, and aerospace company Scaled Composites, a subsidiary of Northrop Grumman, will also provide support.
The BWB is an innovative approach to aircraft design, combining the wings and body into a single, continuous shape. This results in reduced aerodynamic drag, improved fuel efficiency, increased payload capacity, and noise reduction.
JetZero’s BWB concept is expected to be at least 30% more aerodynamically efficient than a Boeing 767 or an Airbus A330, which are the basis for the Boeing KC-46A Pegasus tanker and the Airbus A330 Multi-Role Tanker Transport (MRTT).
However, the development of BWB aircraft presents unique challenges, particularly in ensuring stability and control across different flight conditions.
JetZero and the US Air Force announced plans for a full-size demonstrator plane to be ready for flight by 2027.