JetZero to build blended-wing body prototype aircraft for US Air Force


Numerous media outlets, including Audrey Decker's coverage on defenseone.com, have reported that the U.S. Air Force has made a strategic decision to engage California-based startup JetZero in the construction and testing of an innovative aircraft with a wing-shaped structure. This groundbreaking initiative carries the potential to significantly influence the blueprint of the Air Force's forthcoming mobility planes.

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JetZero to build blended wing body prototype aircraft for US Air Force 1 JetZero appears primed for roles in constructing the U.S. Air Force's future aerial refueler (NGAS) and its next-generation airlifter (NGAL).  (Artist rendering source: U.S. Air Force)


The triumphant entity in a competition spearheaded by the Defense Innovation Unit was disclosed on August 15 during an event hosted by the Air & Space Forces Association. Air Force Secretary Frank Kendall expounded on the project's essence, stating that it serves as a prototype demonstration, purposefully designed to expedite the evolution of the Air Force's potential large aircraft fleet. Diverging notably from conventional tube and wing designs, this streamlined configuration holds the promise of enhancing both aerodynamic efficiency and mission capabilities.

Having previously communicated their collaboration with Northrop Grumman on the development of a blended-wing tanker named Z-5, designated company JetZero appears primed for roles in constructing the Air Force's future aerial refueler (NGAS) and its next-generation airlifter (NGAL). It's crucial, however, to recognize that the JetZero prototype operates solely as a "demonstrator" at this stage, thereby precluding direct associations with NGAS or NGAL, as emphasized by Maj. Gen. Albert Miller, Director of Strategy, Plans, Requirements, and Programs at Air Mobility Command.

JetZero is developing an ultra-efficient Blended Wing Body jet with unprecedented performance. Working with the US Air Force, NASA and the FAA for entry-into-service by 2030. The JetZero Blended Wing is the biggest leap in commercial aircraft architecture since the dawn of the jet age and the best first step toward the ultimate goal of zero-carbon emissions aviation. The aircraft will launch in 2030 with 100% SAF compatibility, and the internal volume to accommodate zero-carbon emissions hydrogen.

This future aircraft dramatically improves aerodynamic efficiency over traditional tube designs which are fundamentally unstable and require large tail surfaces, creating yet more weight and drag. The Blended Wing is a naturally stable design requiring no tail surfaces, which eliminates unnecessary complexity. A shorter, wider fuselage is blended together mimicking the wing to provide lift. This reduces the surface needed, creating a lighter aircraft with less drag. The beauty of efficiency is that it compounds. With less drag and weight, the size of the engines is reduced, which further reduces drag and weight. The result is an aircraft with the passenger capacity and range of a small wide body that uses the engines of existing narrow-body planes. 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.


JetZero to build blended wing body prototype aircraft for US Air Force 2 This future aircraft dramatically improves aerodynamic efficiency over traditional tube designs which are fundamentally unstable and require large tail surfaces, creating yet more weight and drag (Drawing source: JetZero)