Swift Engineering is an American engineering firm that builds autonomous systems, helicopters, submarines, spacecraft, ground vehicles, robotics, and composite parts. The Chairman and CEO is Hiro Matsushita, a former racecar driver and grandson of the founder of Panasonic, Konosuke Matsushita.

Swift Engineering
FormerlySwift Racing Cars
Company typePrivate, Aerospace manufacturer
IndustryAerospace engineering, Aerospace manufacturer, UAS
GenreAerospace engineering
Founded1983; 41 years ago (1983)
California, USA
Area served
Key people
Advance electronic sensors & systems
BrandsSwift Crane [simple], Swift Ultra Long Endurance (SULE) [ja]
OwnerMatsushita International Corp (100%)
Number of employees
ParentMatsushita International Corp
DivisionsAeronautics Systems
Defense Systems
Mission Systems
Space Systems

Swift used to produce racing cars for open-wheel racing series, including Formula Ford, Formula Atlantic, the Champ Car World Series and Formula Nippon, having designed and fabricated over 500 race cars. Swift is AS9100, ISO 14001, and ISO 27000 certified.



Swift Engineering was founded in 1983 by David Bruns, Alex Cross, R. K. Smith, and Paul White under the name Swift Racing Cars.[4] Their first car, the DB-1, was a Formula Ford which won the SCCA National Championship in its debut race.[5] The company later built cars for Sports 2000, Formula Ford 2000, Formula Atlantic, and CART. Swift chassis won the Atlantic Championship from 1989 to 1992 and British Formula Renault in 1990.

In 1991, Swift was purchased by Panasonic executive and former Indycar racing driver Hiro Matsushita,[6] grandson of Panasonic founder Konosuke Matsushita,[7] who renamed the firm Swift Engineering. Under his direction, Swift moved up to the CART World Series for 1997, with two cars entered by Newman/Haas Racing and driven by Michael Andretti and Christian Fittipaldi. In CART, Swifts got four wins and 24 podiums from 182 race entries. Tarso Marques was the last driver to race a Swift chassis in CART in the 2000 season.

In 2000, Swift Engineering started to provide vertically integrated, multi-disciplined product development services including design, development, engineering, testing, and rapid manufacturing of prototypes, demonstrators, and pre-production articles.

In 2018, Swift Engineering formed a joint venture called Swift Xi Inc. [ja; fr] with the Kobe Institute of Computing to open its first office abroad in Kobe, Japan . Since 2018, a Yalie physicist and executive Nick Barua has overseen management. [8]

Racing cars


The first Swift racecar was the DB-1 Formula Ford. The car won its debut race, the 1983 SCCA Runoffs at Road Atlanta. The DB-1 was the third car designed by Bruns and was considered to be a design simplification of Burns's previous design, the Automotive Development ADF. The car was considered a landmark design that rendered prior Formula Ford models obsolete. The DB-1 had the lowest aerodynamic drag of any Formula Ford at its release. Over 100 DB-1s were sold in the 18 months following the car's release. The car won 10 Formula Ford championships over the next 13 years. The closely related DB6 won an additional six championships with the last one in 2008. The success of the car was considered one of the factors that resulted in the slow decline of Formula Ford in the US after 1984.[9][10][11]

In 1998, Swift became the sole supplier for the new spec regulation Toyota Atlantic Championship. In 2006, the Atlantic race series became a part of the Champ Car (formerly CART) organization and was renamed the Champ Car Atlantic Championship Powered by Mazda. Swift built a new car for the series, using 016.a as a chassis code. Swift became the sole supplier of chassis for the Japanese Formula Nippon championship in 2009 with the 017.n chassis (also known as the FN09).[12] An updated model called SF13 was used in 2013. The company proposed a derivative of the 017.n, the 020.I, in response to Indy Lights' requirement for a new chassis for the 2014 season.[13]

Race cars designed and built by Swift

Year Car Racing Series Image Title
1983 Swift DB1 Formula Ford 1600 [14]
1984 Swift DB2 Sports 2000[15]   Michael Ringström driving a Swift DB2 at the qualification of Suttgarter Rössle's AvD 100 Meilen race
1988 Swift DB3 Formula Ford 2000 [16]
1989 Swift DB4 Formula Atlantic   Hiro Matsushita in Toyota Atlantic Championship 1989 with Swift DB4 [17]
1990 Swift DB5 Sports 2000 "1990 Swift". Retrieved November 10, 2021.[18]
1991 Swift DB6 Formula Ford 2000 1600/2000
1997 Swift 007.i CART[19]   Mario Andretti at 1998 Goodwood Festival of Speed with Swift 007.I
1998 Swift 008.a Formula Atlantic [20]
1998 Swift 009.c CART
1999 Swift 010.c CART [21]
2000 Swift 011.c CART
2002 Swift 014.a Formula Atlantic[22]   Jason Byers holds his arm up to the crowd after winning the Formula Atlantic class at the 2012 SCCA National Championship Runoffs
2006 Swift 016.a Formula Atlantic[23]   Raphael Matos celebrating a victory in his Swift 016.a Atlantic Championship car in 2007
2007 Swift 016.a Formula Atlantic   Giacomo Ricci (foreground) passing Frankie Muniz in their Swift 016.a machines during the 2007 Houston race.
2007 Swift 016.a Formula Atlantic   Robert Wickens driving at the Grand Prix of Houston Champ Car Atlantic support race in 2007.
2009 Swift 017.n Formula Nippon[24]   Heamin Choi celebrating in his Swift 017.n
2010 Swift 017.n Formula Nippon   Formula Nippon 2010 Rd.2 Motegi: André Lotterer(Team Petronas Team TOM'S) during the Sunday free practice session.
2010 Swift 017.n Formula Nippon   Formula Nippon 2010 Rd.2 Motegi: Loïc Duval (Docomo Team Dandelion Racing) during the Sunday free practice session.
2010 Swift FN09 Formula Nippon   Motorsport Japan 2010: Swift FN09's front wing.
2011 Swift 014.a Formula Atlantic   Formula Atlantic winner Michael Mallinen racing in rain at the 2011 SCCA National Runoffs.
2012 Swift 014.a (Toyota) SCCA National Championship Runoffs   Jason Byers holds his arm up to the crowd after winning the Formula Atlantic class at the 2012 SCCA National Championship Runoffs
2013 Swift 014.a (Toyota) SCCA National Championship Runoffs   French racing to a third-place finish in C Sport Racer at Road America during the 2013 SCCA National Championship Runoffs[25]



Beginning in 1997, Swift diversified into aerospace/aviation markets, working with major companies including Northrop Grumman, Boeing, Lockheed Martin, SpaceX, Sikorsky, and others. Swift has also worked for governmental agencies such as NASA.

Notable Aviation products of Swift

Year Name Type Image Title Role
2001 Northrop Grumman Bat Reconnaissance UAV   During experimentation conducted by U.S. Fourth Fleet and Navy Warfare Development Command (NWDC), the Northrop Grumman Bat unmanned aircraft system flies over the joint high-speed vessel USNS Spearhead (JHSV-1) during its maiden flight off of a U.S. Navy vessel in the Straits of Florida. Engineering, Analysis & Manufacturing
2007 Eclipse ECJ / 400 Civil utility aircraft   Eclipse ECJ at Airventure 2007. Engineering, Analysis & Manufacturing
2013 Northrop Grumman MQ-4C Triton Maritime unmanned surveillance and reconnaissance aerial vehicle and patrol aircraft   MQ-4C Triton Test Flight with Multi-Intelligence Upgrade Supporting Northrop Grumman in the design and manufacturing of composite structures.
2015 Sikorsky S-97 Raider Reconnaissance and attack compound helicopter S-97 Raider in flight Engineering, manufacturing, etc.[26]
2017 Echo Voyager Autonomous underwater vehicle(AUV) Engineering & Manufacturing (Details are confidential)


2017 Swift020/021 VTOL type UAV   Swift020 flying over Kobe 2018 Design, manufacturing
2019 Sikorsky–Boeing SB-1 Defiant Compound helicopter   A Boeing-Sikorsky flight demo of the SB-1 Defiant, the SARA, and the S-97 Raider at the William P. Gwinn airport in West Palm Beach, FL, Feb. 20, 2020. A major portion of the airframe structure was designed and manufactured at Swift’s facility in San Clemente, California by an integrated team of Swift and Boeing employees.[28]
2019 Sikorsky Raider X Reconnaissance and attack compound helicopter Swift Engineering worked with Sikorsky on FARA Raider-X helicopter. A major portion of the airframe structure is designed and manufactured at Swift’s facility in San Clemente, California.[29]
2021 Lockheed Martin X-59 Quesst Experimental supersonic aircraft   NASA’s X-59 quiet supersonic research aircraft sits on the ramp at Lockheed Martin Skunk Works in Palmdale, California during sunrise, shortly after completion of painting. With its unique design, including a 38-foot-long nose, the X-59 was built to demonstrate the ability to fly supersonic, or faster than the speed of sound, while reducing the typically loud sonic boom produced by aircraft at such speeds to a quieter sonic “thump”. The X-59 is the centrepiece of NASA’s Quesst mission, which seeks to solve one of the major barriers to supersonic flight over land, currently banned in the United States, by making sonic booms quieter. Engineering, Analysis & Manufacturing
2021 Swift Crane VTOL type UAV   Swift Crane flying over Awaji Island, Hyogo 2023 Design, manufacturing<
2021 Swift Ultra Long Endurance (SULE) [ja] High-altitude platform station First test flight at Spaceport America in New Mexico, USA in July 2020 Design, manufacturing

Killer Bee


Swift Engineering designed, built, and delivered the runway-independent Killer Bee blended wing UAV and its mobile launch/retrieval system in 2002. Northrop Grumman bought the Killer Bee UAV product line from Swift Engineering, and renamed it as the Northrop Grumman Bat in April 2009.[30] It has been used primarily as an ISR gathering tool, and features a 10-ft wingspan with 30-lb payload capacity.

Eclipse 400


In 2007 Swift Engineering produced the prototype Eclipse 400 single-engine jet aircraft under contract to Eclipse Aviation. The aircraft was built in secrecy at NASA's Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia and first flown on 2 July 2007.[31] Swift supplies high-strength, low-weight composite parts and assemblies to several aerospace industry customers. Engineering consultancy and designing and producing tooling for composite parts are further aspects of the business.[32]

Sikorsky–Boeing SB-1 Defiant


Swift Engineering Inc. joined the Sikorsky-Boeing team in 2015 to support the development of the Sikorsky–Boeing SB-1 Defiant Multi-Role Technology Demonstrator (JMR TD), with the design and manufacturing of a significant portion of the airframe structure.[33]



In 2014, Swift started developing the Swift020 fully electric, fully autonomous VTOL UAS. This aircraft is runway-independent and transitions to horizontal flight through its autopilot software.[34] the first UAS featuring X-blade technology, made its first fully autonomous flight demonstration in the city of Kobe, Japan on July 21, 2018.[35] It takes off and lands like a quadrotor but transitions to efficient fixed-wing forward flight without additional launch and recovery equipment, vastly reducing operational time and cost.[36][37] It has a 4-meter wingspan, 2–3 hours of endurance, and a 1.5-kg payload.

Swift Crane


The Swift Crane [ja; simple] is a VTOL unmanned aerial vehicle designed and developed by Swift Engineering. It is a fixed-wing design and can take off and land vertically. This drone features a large wing and four propellers. Swift Engineering initially released the Swift020 model, which was primarily used for research and development purposes, and later upgraded it to the Swift021. The latest version of the drone, the Swift Crane, is a commercialized variant.[38]

Swift Ultra Long Endurance (SULE)


In 2018 Swift proposed to design, fabricate, and fly a Swift Ultra Long Endurance (SULE) [ja]30-day mission high-altitude long endurance (HALE) UAS with flight tests including 24-hrs, 48-hrs, and 7-days during the Phase 2 timeline for NASA.[39] All operations, ground control, safety, reviews, and payload will be included in these test flights and within the proposed 2-year timeframe.[40] Swift HALE completed its first test flight from Spaceport America in New Mexico in 2020.[41]


XLUUV submarine


In 2017, Swift Engineering designed, fabricated, and delivered QTY 10, 10-ft Iridium NEXT payload adapter cylinders, and structures for a 50 ft. XLUUV unmanned submarine.



Swift Engineering is the parent of a diverse set of subsidiaries.

Subsidiary Business Executive Leader
Swift Xi Inc. Engineering Company Nick Barua - COO[42]
Swift Autonomy A complete UAS suite service company Hamilton Rencurrel, Caleb Joiner
Hyperkelp Ocean data as a service company [43] Graeme Rae - CEO


  • 2012: Swift Engineering received the JEC Americas Innovation Award for its out-of-autoclave process[44]
  • 2012: Northrop Grumman Small Business Supplier of the Year, awarded from 1500 suppliers
  • 2013: Swift Engineering has been chosen as a "Best in Class" A&D Company to Watch by Aviation Week[45]
  • 2018: Swift proposed to design, fabricate, and fly a Swift Ultra Long Endurance (SULE) 30-day mission HALE UAS with flight tests including 24-hrs, 48-hrs, and 7-days during the Phase 2 timeline for NASA. All operations, ground control, safety, reviews, and payload will be included in these test flights and within the proposed 2-year timeframe.[46]
  • 2019: Swift Engineering has been selected out of 25 companies around the world to install a UAS academy for the Ministry of National Security (Bahamas), to deploy a suite of drones to support the country's command, control, communication, and ISR efforts.[47]
  • 2019: Swift is delivering a pair of low-cost (90% reduction), low-weight (50% reduction) telepresence robotic arm replacements to NASA for their Valkyrie humanoid robotic assembly.
  • 2019: Swift Engineering has been selected for the design and construction of Future Attack Reconnaissance Aircraft (FARA) Airframe for Sikorsky.[48]


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  7. ^ https://www.panasonic.com/global/corporate/history/konosuke-matsushita.html/ Archived November 6, 2021, at the Wayback Machine The Founder, Konosuke Matsushita
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