DARPA awards development deal

The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency has kicked off the technology development phase of a program designed to predict the structural condition of aircraft.

Four contractors'Northrop Grumman Corp.; Pratt & Whitney of East Hartford, Conn.; General Electric Co.; and Southwest Research Institute of San Antonio'were selected to perform work on the Structural Integrity Prognosis System.

The contracts will total at least $30 million, and that amount could grow if all options are exercised.

Under SIPS, the companies will develop technologies and tools for predicting the readiness of aircraft to carry out their missions. SIPS uses advanced physics-based and data-driven models that are combined with advanced sensors to assess the condition of aircraft as they are subjected to damage, stress and corrosion, according to DARPA.

'I believe that we will show that it is possible and practical to double the useful life of expensive gas turbine engine components and increase by fivefold the accuracy of estimating aircraft fatigue life,' said Leo Christodoulou, Prognosis program manager.

'Prognosis technologies and methods should save the taxpayer money, increase safety for our warfighters and dramatically increase the military commander's ability to accurately predict the warfighting capabilities of his or her equipment,' he added.

Northrop Grumman received a $14.1 million contract, which could be worth up to $32 million if all options are exercised. Pratt & Whitney and General Electric both received $7.1 million contracts. Southwest received a $1.7 million award.

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