Bell Textron announced Tuesday that its jet assisted next generation tiltrotor design has been picked to continue development in the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) Speed and Runway Independent Technologies (SPRINT) X-Plane program. DARPA will fund the design of an aircraft that can take off and land vertically but also fly at 400 knots or more. As we reported last week, Aurora Flight Systems was awarded a similar contract for its futuristic blended wing design with fans in the wings. Bell’s design is a little more familiar.

The Bell entry looks like a more sculpted, possibly crew optional version of the Osprey tiltrotor but with a major difference. It also sports jet engine(s) to provide the kick needed for high-speed mode. DARPA launched the competition in response to the U.S. military’s shift to the Pacific where it needs fast and long-legged aircraft without a network of vulnerable runways. “Bell is honored to be selected for the next phase of this revolutionary program and ready to execute preliminary design,” Jason Hurst, Bell’s executive vice president of engineering, said in a statement.

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