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Rolls-Royce wins USAF energy-optimised aircraft's electrics contract

Rolls-Royce has been awarded a $690,000 contract by the US Air Force Research Laboratory for its Integrated Vehicle Energy Technology (Invent) component and subsystem development programme.

Under Invent, the UK company's US LibertyWorks subsidiary will design and develop a Robust Electrical Power System (REPS) for what the USAF describes as a future "energy-optimised aircraft". The goals for REPS include increasing fuel efficiency and power capability, improving efficiencies, reducing lifecycle costs, generating less heat and enabling an electricity capacity that can meet the expected higher demands of future on-board systems.

Such aircraft will be more electric than today's by using electrical actuators in place of hydraulics for control surfaces and gears and being armed with directed energy weapons such as microwave beams.

"We are delighted to have been chosen to develop one of the critical Invent subsystems. We are closely working with airframe primes to provide an integrated power solution that will be compatible not only with existing jet engines, but will also support next-generation aircraft," says LibertyWorks' chief operating officer Phil Burkholder.

Invent's next steps will involve an assessment of the critical technologies and integrated ground demonstrations of an architecture for the "energy-optimised aircraft".

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