Military Aviation

Blue Force Technologies and Air Force Research Laboratory conduct propulsion flowpath test on Fury unmanned aggressor aircraft

The ground test for a novel carbon fiber composite propulsion flowpath system for Blue Force Technologies Fury uncrewed fighter under the Air Force Research Laboratory Bandit program has been successfully completed.

The ground test for a novel carbon fiber composite propulsion flowpath system for Blue Force Technologies (BFT)’s Fury uncrewed fighter under the Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL) Bandit program has been successfully completed by BFT and AFRL.

The Bandit program saw the award of a Small Business Innovation Research contract by AFRL Aerospace Systems Directorate to BFT to develop an unmanned air vehicle that supports adversary air (ADAIR) training missions. The Bandit program contract was awarded as the result of a Strategic Financing (STRATFI) proposal selected by AFWERX with a $9 million initial value and options to complete the design and build of up to four air vehicles.

Under the Bandit program, BFT, a small aerospace and defense company based in North Carolina, will mature a high-performance unmanned air vehicle design that pilots of Air Force fighter aircraft can use to train against. The air vehicle is a part of a proposed autonomy-based system providing adversary air training for Air Force, Navy and Marine Corps fighter crews at greatly reduced costs compared to current manned capabilities.

Alyson Turri, the AFRL Bandit program manager, said in the article AFRL program advances unmanned air system used for training U.S. fighter pilots by Whitney Wetsig Air Force Research Laboratory Public Affairs “these small unmanned ADAIR systems can be flown in training scenarios so that fighter pilots can train against tactically relevant adversaries in threat representative numbers. The goal is to develop an unmanned platform that looks like a fifth-generation adversary with similar vehicle capabilities.”

Fury conducting a ground engine test

The air vehicle technology developed under Bandit can be adapted for other Autonomous Collaborative Platform (ACP) mission areas. The Bandit program further demonstrates the impact that small businesses can have in the defense industrial base.

According to PR Newswire that received a news release by BTF, the value of digital engineering to expedite ground and flight test by harnessing the artifacts generated through digital analysis as proof of capability by AFRL and BFT. This ground test provided high-fidelity data that will be used in validation of computational methods over the coming months.

“On an uncrewed fighter like Fury, proper integration of the propulsion flowpath is the most significant design driver for the overall vehicle. It was crucial to us to demonstrate, prior to building flight test aircraft, that we could correctly predict the interaction between the propulsion flowpath components and the Williams International engine,” said Scott Bledsoe, President of Blue Force Technologies.

“The Bandit program is about demonstrating ever tighter model-to-hardware prototype development cycles for autonomous collaborative platforms, and this integrated propulsion flowpath test is indicative of that approach. After making the engine selection in June 2022, the AFRL and Blue Force Technologies team worked to finalize test objectives and procedures concurrently with Blue Force’s hardware build to ensure this full-scale test came together in under six months,” Turri concluded.


Photo credit: Blue Force Technologies and U.S. Air Force

Dario Leone

Dario Leone is an aviation, defense and military writer. He is the Founder and Editor of “The Aviation Geek Club” one of the world’s most read military aviation blogs. His writing has appeared in The National Interest and other news media. He has reported from Europe and flown Super Puma and Cougar helicopters with the Swiss Air Force.

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