Military Aircraft

Grenade-launched drones

By Keith Button

May 1, 2024

U.S. researchers want to figure out how to make rotorcraft drones that can be folded up and launched from the standard-issue grenade launchers carried by many U.S. and allied troops. Keith Button has the story.

B-21 unveiling

January 3, 2023

Thoughts about the design, and why civilian designers are intrigued by blended-wing-bodies too.

Catching a “Gremlin”

By Keith Button

April 1, 2022

Military drones are alluring tools for spying and striking targets, but getting them flying where they need to be is a challenge. What if conventionally piloted cargo planes could fly to the outskirts of a battlefield, release a swarm of such drones, and then recover them for refueling and reloading? Keith Button tells us how DARPA and Dynetics brought this vision to the edge of reality.

Creating alternatives to rare earth alloys

By Keith Button

March 1, 2022

When designers need specific magnetic properties in an aircraft component, they turn to proven alloys containing rare earth elements, a group of metals with limited suppliers. Keith Button spoke to scientists who are applying computational models toward developing alternative alloys that would meet requirements without rare earth elements.

Mystery of the “damn things”

By Jan Tegler and Cat Hofacker

October 31, 2019

In a handful of incidents that go back to 2004, U.S. Navy fighter pilots and weapons officers have reported detecting strange objects maneuvering quickly with unheard of agility around their aircraft. The Navy professes to be as mystified as anyone. Jan Tegler and Cat Hofacker went searching for possible explanations. Here is what they found.

Generational conflict

By Jan Tegler

September 2, 2019

For the U.S. and countries that buy its warplanes, the upgrade to fifth-generation fighters won’t be like flipping a switch. In fact, Boeing and Lockheed Martin each have proposals to soup up the designs of their decades-old fourth-generation fighters, the F-15 and F-16. Jan Tegler looks at the arguments for and against the F-15EX and F-21.

Fighting for “Future Vertical Lift”

By Jan Tegler

July 1, 2018

Rotorcraft advocates in the U.S. military have been laying the research groundwork to replace many of today’s helicopters with versions that would employ a revolutionary propulsion concept to-be-decided. Jan Tegler looks at the battle to elevate the Future Vertical Lift initiative into an acquisition program and speed up its schedule.

Grading the MQ-25

By Jan Tegler

April 30, 2018

Is the U.S. Navy's proposed refueling drone the best strategy for empowering pilots to penetrate enemy airspace?

Research reboot

By Keith Button

February 28, 2018

The U.S. Air Force Research Lab will spend much of 2018 taking a fresh look at its approach to science and technology

Red Air reset

By Jan Tegler

February 1, 2018

U.S. Air Force is preparing to outsource much of its demand for "aggressor" aircraft to private companies

Game changer

May 31, 2017

DARPA’s plans for a demonstrator UAS for the Navy


By Joe Stumpe

April 17, 2017

The U.S. Air Force is having a hard time letting go of the A-10

New blueprint, old dream

By Debra Werner

March 6, 2017

Designing a jet-fast plane that can stop on a dime in midair, hover and speed off

Carrier Drone Debate

By Keith Button

August 31, 2016

Was it wise or foolish for U.S. Navy to choose a refueling drone as a warplane?