Auora Flight Sciences Orion

Aurora Flight Sciences announced today that its “Orion” unmanned aircraft system has been competitively selected by the US Air Force Research Laboratory for the first phase of the Medium Altitude Global ISR and Communications (MAGIC) unmanned aircraft system (UAS) contract. MAGIC is a new start under the Department of Defense’s Joint Capability Technology Demonstration (JCTD) program to demonstrate 5-day endurance flying at 20,000 ft with 1,000 lbs payload.

“Selection of Orion for the JCTD program is confirmation that MAGIC’s game-changing capability is demanded by our warfighter and affirms Aurora’s efforts in accelerating delivery of this affordable, extremely long endurance ISR capability. With quick-paced innovation in aircraft sensors, Orion is designed to provide a flexible and modular platform for high-priority DoD payloads. This selection is a great honor for Aurora,” said Aurora CEO John Langford. “Both Predator and Global Hawk began as similar programs, and have matured to where they are operational systems supporting the US military around the world; Aurora will build on and learn from these programs.”

Orion has been under development at Aurora’s Columbus, Mississippi plant since 2006. The all-composite aircraft has a wingspan of 132 feet and is powered by twin diesel engines.

In addition to the work to be performed in Columbus, MS, Aurora’s facilities in Bridgeport, WV, Manassas, VA, and Cambridge, MA are all expected to be involved in the MAGIC JCTD.

By Gary Mortimer

Founder and Editor of sUAS News | Gary Mortimer has been a commercial balloon pilot for 25 years and also flies full-size helicopters. Prior to that, he made tea and coffee in air traffic control towers across the UK as a member of the Royal Air Force.