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DARPA dubs its newest X-plane XRQ-73
Wednesday, 26 June 2024
The XRQ-73 aircraft will be a Group 3 UAS weighing approximately 1,250 pounds, which draws on the earlier AFRL/IARPA Great Horned Owl (GHO) project. First flight is expected by year-end 2024.

The Series Hybrid Electric Propulsion AiRcraft Demonstration program, known as SHEPARD, has received its official X-plane designation: XRQ-73.

SHEPARD is an "X-prime" program, leveraging the series hybrid electric architecture and some of the component technologies from the earlier AFRL/IARPA Great Horned Owl (GHO) project.

"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," says Steve Komadina, SHEPARD program manager. "The SHEPARD program is maturing a specific propulsion architecture and power class as an exemplar of potential benefits for the Department of Defense.”

The DARPA team includes members from the Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL), the Office of Naval Research (ONR), and our warfighters.

The prime contractor for SHEPARD is Northrop Grumman Corporation’s Aeronautics Systems sector in Redondo Beach, CA. Scaled Composites, LLC is a major supplier, along with Cornerstone Research Group, Inc., Brayton Energy, LLC, PC Krause and Associates and EaglePicher Technologies, LLC.

The XRQ-73 aircraft will be a Group 3 UAS weighing approximately 1,250 pounds. First flight of the XRQ-73 is expected by year-end 2024.

Contact details from our directory:
DARPA Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency Airframer, Research/Consulting Services, Technical/Eng/Scientific Studies
AFRL (Airforce Research Laboratory) Research/Consulting Services, Wind Tunnels
Northrop Grumman Aerospace Systems Airframer
Scaled Composites LLC Design Services, Final Assembly, Flight Testing, Prototyping, Research/Consulting Services, Simulation Services, Tooling
EaglePicher Technologies Lead Acid Batteries (Wet & Dry), Lithium-ion Batteries, Lithium-Sulfur Batteries, Nickel-Cadmium Batteries, Silver-Oxide Zinc Batteries, Thermal Batteries
CRG, Inc. (Cornerstone Research Group) Blowers, Design Services, Electric Drives, Electric Motors
Brayton Energy, LLC Aerodynamic Test Services, Brazing, Computational Fluid Dynamics, Computer-aided Analysis, Computer-aided Engineering, Design Services, Fabricating Services, Fatigue Testing, Prototyping, Research/Consulting Services, Stress Analysis, Testing Services, Welding
Related aircraft programs:
Northrop Grumman SHEPARD