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Pics: Air Force reveals new futuristic jet

Authorities are investigating a shooting after an airman at Shaw Air Force Base shot and injured a person attempting to illegally enter the base. ( State/TNS)
August 18, 2023

The U.S. Air Force is planning to invest $235 million in JetZero, a start-up manufacturer that is building a blended-wing body jet that is expected to provide better efficiency and range for cargo planes and military tankers.

“Blended wing body aircraft have the potential to significantly reduce fuel demand and increase global reach,” Air Force Secretary Frank Kendall said in an Air Force press release. “Moving forces and cargo quickly, efficiently, and over long distances is a critical capability to enable national security strategy.”

According to JetZero, the blended-wing body is a “naturally stable design” that does not require tail surfaces, which reduces the complexity of the aircraft. With a much lighter design and less drag, the blended-wing body is able to reduce emissions by saving fuel consumption.

JetZero’s website explains, “This breakthrough fills the mid-market gap with an aircraft that achieves half the fuel burn and emissions of the aging fleet it will replace.”

According to the 2023 National Defense Authorization Act, the Department of Defense is planning to invest $235 million over the course of four years in order to “fast track” the process of developing what the Air Force believes is “transformational dual-use technology.”

The Air Force noted that the project involves collaboration between the Department of the Air Force, the Defense Innovation Unit, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, and the Department of Defense’s Office of Strategic Capital. However, private investment in JetZero’s project will also be required.

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Despite the concept of a blended-wing body having existed for decades, the Air Force claimed that recent advancements in manufacturing, structural design, and materials technology have made it possible to achieve large-scale production.

The Air Force Operational Energy Office anticipates that initial flight testing of the blended-wing body aircraft could begin as early as 2027.

“It’s been a little over a hundred years since a few brave Airmen took to the skies and proved the first aerial refueling capability, extending the global reach of our Air Force,” Dr. Ravi Chaudhary, assistant secretary of the Air Force for Energy, Installations, and Environment, said. “This announcement marks another game-changing milestone for the Air Force in our efforts to maintain the advantage of airpower effectiveness against any future competitors.”