Blended Wing Body Aircraft

Defining Possible in Air Mobility

aircraft in flight

Demonstrating New Air Mobility Solutions

The U.S. Air Force has selected innovative aerospace startup JetZero and Northrop Grumman to design, build and fly a full-scale blended wing body aircraft (BWB), which aims to demonstrate enhanced capabilities for improved efficiency, endurance and cargo capacity on multi-mission military and commercial platforms.

Recent advancements in technology have revolutionized JetZero’s BWB concept, redefining the next generation of air mobility for military aerial refueling and logistics missions. In collaboration with Scaled Composites to build, design and test flight the full-scale air vehicle demonstrator, Northrop Grumman will lead mission systems and vehicle integration efforts to deliver an innovative solution to JetZero, and ultimately the U.S. Air Force.

tanker aircraft refueling fighter aircraft.

Northrop Grumman’s Role

In collaboration with JetZero, Northrop Grumman will advance BWB technology through mission systems integration and rapid-prototyping capabilities to expand what’s possible for the Air Force. Northrop Grumman will leverage decades of expertise in advanced aircraft design, advanced manufacturing, mission systems integration and digital engineering for design, development and long-term aircraft support. Scaled Composites will leverage strengths to design, build and testing of a full-size technical demonstrator aircraft. 

Blended wing body aircraft provide numerous opportunities to address challenges we could face in future conflicts. The blended wing body aircraft will allow the U.S. Air Force to learn and apply capabilities for increased efficiency, endurance and capacity for future missions. 
Blended wing body aircraft have the potential to significantly reduce fuel demand and increase global reach. Moving forces and cargo quickly, efficiently, and over long distance is a critical capability to enable national security strategy.
— Frank Kendall
United States Secretary of the Air Force

Blended Wing Body Concept

While the BWB concept was first developed decades ago, recent advancements in technology, structural design, materials technology and advanced manufacturing make large-scale production far more achievable.

Today’s BWB technology provides numerous opportunities to significantly reduce fuel demand and increase global reach. Several military transport configurations may also be possible with BWB aircraft, offering the ability to move forces and cargo quickly, efficiently and over long distances. JetZero’s BWB demonstrator is envisioned to provide 30 percent less aerodynamic drag, additional lift, and improved mobility and efficiency. Its smaller footprint will increase asset availability and storage, and enhance agility and responsiveness.

The BWB aircraft represents a leap ahead in bringing fuel to the fight – with greater range of delivery, greater carrying capacity, and at greater efficiency. The blended wing body aircraft’s aerodynamic design is also crucial to addressing the need of increased tanking capacity, offering the potential to achieve 30 to 50 percent fuel savings over a comparably sized tube and wing aircraft. In all, the BWB aircraft offers an innovative approach to solving air mobility challenges in an ever changing strategic environment.

In the News

tanker aircraft refueling fighter jets over ocean

We’re collaborating with JetZero to build and test a full-scale demonstrator of its new blended wing body transport for the U.S. Air Force.

two males speaking on a panel

Northrop Grumman participated in the U.S. Air Force’s historic announcement on the blended wing body prototype project.

aircraft inflight

Janes: U.S. Air Force selects JetZero for large, blended wing body demonstrator

aircraft inflight

Breaking Defense: Air Force picks startup JetZero to build blended wing body demonstrator

JetZero flying over wetland

CNN: Is this new plane design the future of aviation?

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Aviation Week: U.S. Air Force selects JetZero for large, blended wing body demonstrator