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  1. With a modularized, cellular wing design that looks like a flying set of cupboards, the unmanned aircraft is a hybrid of fixed-wing and rotary wing technologies designed to create a vertical take-off and landing (VTOL) aircraft that boasts greater range and speed capabilities. The goal is to build a demonstrator aircraft that can reach a top sustained speed of 300 to 400 knots (345 to 460 mph, 555 to 740 km/h), hover with an efficiency of at least 75 percent instead of the current 60 percent, reduce the cruise lift-to-drag ratio from five or six to 10, and carry a payload equal to 40 percent of the X-Plane's 10,000 to 12,000 lb (4,536 to 5,443 kg) gross weight. The VTOL X-Plane is the result of Aurora Flight Sciences Corporation's Phase 2 design contract for the program and is aimed at addressing both vertical and horizontal flight requiements. DARPA says that by calling on over half a century of advanced air vehicle and aeromechanics design and testing, adaptive and reconfigurable control systems, and highly integrated designs, the VTOL X-Plane does away with conventional mechanical drive systems in favor of a modular approach.
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