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Weapons win wars, not websites. Forgive our simplicity here but we remain laser focused on product development, not IT. We are also trying to stay beneath the radar for the time being, literally and figuratively, in order to maintain the strategic surprise, and are purposely avoiding social media, YouTube videos, etc. We rely on people like you to help forward our information to the appropriate people in the military and private industry who could assist in guiding and supporting our efforts. Thank you for your assistance.

Kestrel AerospaceTM was started with the goal of providing the U.S and allied military forces with a means to cost-effectively counter drones like the Iranian Shahed-136 and similar Chinese Sunflower-200. These drones are simple and cheap, but can carry a roughly 100 lb warhead well over a thousand miles and pose a significant threat to military assets and infrastructure. A single drone can destroy a vehicle, aircraft, or radar installation, and one or more hits can render a naval warship mission ineffective.


Shahed-136 Suicide Drone

Modern warfare is evolving into a competition of magazine depth and ammunition production rates, and this is a competition the western allies are currently losing.  The U.S. expects to produce less than 5000 surface-to-air and air-to-air missiles in total throughout all of 2024, including all Patriot, SM6, ESSM, RAM, AMRAAM, and Sidewinder missiles, at costs ranging from $500,000 up to $4 million per missile.


Russian production of their Shahed-136 clone alone is expected to exceed 5000 drones per year by early 2025, at a unit cost of less than $50,000 each. Chinese production rates would dwarf that (for comparison, Ford Motor Company currently produces over 5000 vehicles PER DAY).  In a wartime scenario, massed attacks by these types of drones would rapidly deplete our missile stocks, leaving U.S. and allied land and naval assets almost defenseless against ballistic missile, cruise missile, and drone threats.  Kestrel intends to change this.

The Product

Kestrel Aerospace is developing a novel compact aircraft capable of detecting, engaging and shooting down these types of drones. This is a basic propeller-driven fixed wing manned aircraft, simple by modern military standards, but sufficient to perform the task required. The Kestrel design provides a cost-effective means of destroying these types of drones while they are still far from their target, a capability that is currently critically lacking. In addition to drone defense, numerous other roles are envisioned as discussed further below.

The Kestrel aircraft was designed with large scale production in mind and to require only a minimum and U.S.-based supply chain.  It is constructed primarily from steel and aluminum.  It does not require any epoxy, fiberglass, or carbon fiber which would be in high demand during a wartime economy.  All components are widely available off-the-shelf or easily manufactured from raw materials in a machine shop.



At this time we are not publicly releasing any photographs of the design. Several design features have yet to be finalized such that the current design may not be representative of the final aircraft. The design is roughly similar in appearance to a Rutan Quickie except the Kestrel design has a twin boom tail and tricycle landing gear.


Rutan Quickie

We are often asked why we aren’t building this to be bigger, faster, and more capable. We will certainly have those versions in the future, but there’s reason we’re starting small. Interesting things happen with scale. Weight and wing loading drop much faster than length and wingspan, and the nature of flight changes. Compare a mosquito to a bumblebee, or a hummingbird to a crow. We have taken advantage of this scaling to develop a fixed wing aircraft capable of taking off from and landing on any short stretch of two lane road, or from the helicopter deck of any naval ship. We feel that in a wartime environment where every possible airstrip and naval flattop will be under threat this versatility more than compensates for the reduced payload.


The Kestrel was designed for ease of transport and storage. The wings are detachable, and the tail folds over the fuselage such that the entire aircraft fits within a 4’x4’x8’ crate. It can be readied from the storage configuration to the flight configuration in about 15 minutes.


Mechanical complexity of the aircraft is similar to a motorcycle and the pilot can handle all required maintenance. Maintenance required consists of periodic oil, tire, brake, spark plug, filter, and battery changes. The engines and the propeller shaft bearings should be replaced at 1000 hours. Each engine weighs only 70 lbs and can be removed and replaced in under an hour with no special equipment required.


One 20’ long mil-spec shipping container can hold four aircraft plus fuel and spare parts sufficient to support all four aircraft for 180 flight hours each. Gross weight including the container is 25,000 lbs. A 20’ container containing fuel only (80x 55 gallon drums, palletized) has a gross weight of 36,000 lbs and provides fuel sufficient to support all four aircraft for 360 flight hours each.


The Kestrel is designed to be easy to fly. The counter rotating props cancel engine and propeller torque, and the tandem wing design is stall resistant and less sensitive to pitch angle than conventional aircraft. Stall speeds are low and no flare is required to dump energy at touchdown – just fly close to the landing zone and cut power – it will sink naturally and land. Pilots should achieve basic proficiency within 50-100 flight hours such that training is a matter of weeks, not months or years.

Project Status

As of May 2024 our first “K0” prototype is at the taxi test stage. Flight testing is planned to begin in June 2024.  The K0 is being developed in compliance with the FAA Part 103 (Ultralight) regulations in order to speed development.  We will show this aircraft at the EAATM AirVentureTM OshKoshTM show in July 2024 under our civilian Kestrel AircraftTM brand, and intend to begin sales of this design in early 2025 as a means to fund continued development of the military version. Come see us at the show!  We are Exhibit Space #919 in the Ultralight area.

Other Roles

The Kestrel design may also be suitable for other roles including:

  • Naval Uses  The Kestrel is designed to be operable from any ship with a helicopter deck. Rocket assisted takeoff and a net-assisted landing may be necessary depending on payload. Among other roles, Kestrels can be deployed into patrol zones past the radar horizons of surface combatants to watch for and intercept air and naval drones, inspect surface contacts, and search for downed pilots.

  • Drone Carrier  The Kestrel can carry and deploy multiple Raven, Switchblade, Anvil, and similarly sized drones, extending their operational range significantly.

  • Drone Repeater  The Kestrel can carry communication gear allowing drones requiring line-of-sight control to be operated significantly farther away from their ground control stations than is current possible.

Future Variants

  • Rocket Assisted Takeoff  Kestrel Aerospace is working on a RATO option for the aircraft, allowing the current aircraft or a future variant to be launched from the back of a truck, from the helicopter deck of naval vessels, or from other locations with limited takeoff distance available.

  • Turbojet  Several jet engines are available which provide similar thrust as the internal combustion engines and the airframe could be redesigned without difficulty to integrate them.  The primary advantage to this would be logistics since it would use Jet A or diesel, at the cost of increased fuel consumption and additional maintenance required.

  • Resupply and Medivac  The narrow wingspan and low stall speed allows the Kestrel to safely go where other land and air vehicles may not. It can fly along roads below the treeline and under powerlines, over rivers, minefields, and other obstacles, etc. A widebody version of the aircraft with about 500’ of straight road for takeoffs and landings could allow for rapid transport of several hundred pounds of supplies into a combat zone and evacuation of a single casualty out.

  • Unmanned  Any of the above roles could be performed as an unmanned system. While the manned system is simpler, cheaper, has less logistic tail, and is immune to signals tracking or jamming, an unmanned system would obviously be preferred for use in high threat environments.

  • Loitering Munition  The Kestrel design could be easily developed into an offensive system like the Shahed-136 and Sunflower-200 drones, giving the U.S. a similar harassment and air defense depletion capability. The pilot and armament would be replaced with a 100-200 lb warhead, drone control package, and additional fuel; and the fuselage, tail, and wings would be redesigned into a more compact package suitable for this application.

Kestrel Aerospace is seeking DOD and industry partners to assist us in guiding our development efforts. Consider the above a description of what can be;  we are open to adjusting our design goals to match a particular application or doctrine.  Please contact us to discuss.

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