WASHINGTON – The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency has selected Aurora Flight Sciences to build the so-called "X-Plane," an unmanned aircraft that will take off and land vertically.

DARPA awarded Aurora the prime contract for phase two of the agency's Vertical Takeoff and Landing Experimental Plane, or VTOL X-Plane, program, the company announced March 3.

The Aurora team's design, named LightningStrike, is an unmanned aircraft that features a Rolls-Royce AE 1107C turboshaft engine that will power three Honeywell generators, according to a company statement.

Under the agreement, Aurora will develop a technology demonstrator that can fly 50 percent faster than existing VTOL aircraft, the statement reads. Aurora will conduct the first flight tests of the technology demonstrator sometime around 2018.

Email: lseligman@defensenews.com

Twitter: @laraseligman

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