||Under joint development by Boeing Phantom Works and DARPA (the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency), the Canard Rotor/Wing, or CR/W, is a revolutionary aircraft that combines the speed and range of a fixed-wing aircraft with the flexibility of rotary-wing flight. The CR/W's rotor is designed not only to spin during vertical takeoffs and landings but to stop turning during flight and convert to a fixed wing for high-speed cruise.
The vehicle is 17.7 feet long, 6.5 feet high and weighs 1,460 pounds. In addition to its 12-foot-diameter rotor/wing, it has an 8.9-foot-span canard and an 8.1-foot-span horizontal tail. The CR/W, also known as the X-50A Dragonfly, is propelled by a conventional turbofan engine combined with a unique Boeing reaction drive rotor system.
During rotary-wing flight, the engine's exhaust powers the rotor system through ducts to nozzles near the rotor tips. During conversion, a canard wing and horizontal tail provide the lift necessary to remain aloft. The rotorcraft system requires no gearbox, transmission or tail rotor.
There are two designs for the CR/W -- an unmanned version that could be used for intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance missions, and a larger, manned version that could be used for attack/escort and lift missions.
The first CR/W technology demonstrator completed two successful flight tests on Nov. 24 and Dec. 3, 2003 at the U.S. Army Proving Ground at Yuma, Ariz.. The demonstrator was damaged during its third flight on March 23, 2004. After an investigation by DARPA and Boeing, improvements were made to the CR/W design. They have been incorporated into a second X-50A technology demonstrator, which is scheduled to begin flight testing during the summer of 2005.
Under the remote control of a pilot in a ground station cockpit, the X-50A Dragonfly will gradually perform more extensive hover flights, then forward moving rotary-wing flights, and finally a conversion to a fixed-wing flight and back again to a rotary-wing landing.