Will Quinn of Leading Edge Aeronautics came up with an idea for an alternative for ferring fighters that was truly innovative. He suggested that instead of having the fighters fly to their destination and waste fuel, there should be a plane that would be big enough to transport the fighters to their destination internally. This way the fighters would be primed and ready to execute their mission without stopping to refuel upon arrival overseas.
The team named their aircraft The Marsupial and went to professor Ashworth for approval. He wrote up a request for proposal with specifications that the team had to meet and they got started. The Marsupial had to be able transport at least two fully-assembled F-35 fighters to overseas locations. Meaning it had to have a range of about 3000-4000 NM. It also had to be able to cruise at 40,000ft at Mach 0.7.
The final design this semester for The Marsupial has a cargo bay that is 120 ft long, 40 ft wide, and 17.5 ft high. The cargo bay is over twice the width of the C-5 and has nearly 3x the volume, allowing it to carry three F-35s within the cargo bay. The Marsupial also has an upper deck that houses the flight deck and a 100-passenger cabin. With a takeoff weight of 1.28 million pounds with the maximum payload (300,000 lb), the Marsupial has a wingspan of 280 ft. It can cruise at Mach 0.8 and has a max range of 4,000 NM without aerial refueling.
When asked about his favorite part of working on this project, Team Lead, Kyle Bauer, said, “My favorite part about prelim has definitely been the teamwork. I was lucky to be able to serve as leader of such an extraordinary team. I’ve never been a part of a team with this much enthusiasm, motivation, and drive. It was truly refreshing and rewarding.” Leading Edge Aeronautics will be continuing to refine the design for this project in Detail in the fall.