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    Air Force Awards a Start-Up Company $235 Million to Build an Example of a Sleek New Plane

    Air Force Awards a Start-Up Company $235 Million to Build an Example of a Sleek New Plane

    The U.S. Force will invest $235 million to help a -up manufacturer build a jet with a blended-wing body that officials say could provide greater range and efficiency for tankers and cargo planes and perhaps eventually be used to carry airline passengers.

    JetZero and the Air Force, which announced the award Wednesday, say they hope that the full-size demonstrator plane will be ready to fly in 2027.

    Most large airplanes are tubes with wings and a tail section attached. Blended-wing planes are designed with the body and wings being one piece. The result is a sleek, futuristic-looking aircraft with less aerodynamic drag than a conventional plane of the same size.

    JetZero officials argue that traditional planes are running out of ways to improve fuel efficiency, and, with fuel prices likely to rise, an entirely new design is needed to reduce fuel consumption and emissions.

    The Air Force, the Pentagon's Defense Innovation Unit and are working on the project. JetZero has a partner in defense contractor Northrop Grumman.

    The idea of a blended-wing body is not new. Boeing built and tested reduced-scale samples of its X-48. Lockheed Martin has tested a Hybrid Wing Body design in wind tunnels. The Air Force said technology advancements in materials and manufacturing have made the production of larger-scale demonstrators possible.

    At a briefing Wednesday, officials said the JetZero demonstrator could…

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