The most useful aircraft in the world would take off, hover, and land like a helicopter but fly as fast as a plane. Decades of research toward this goal have resulted in very few usable, effective designs. Of those, the V-22 Osprey is the most (in)famous: After early years marred by fatal crashes, costs rose to $36.5 billion and development dragged on from 1989 to 2007.
Today, the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency announced it wants to go back to the drawing board for a new Vertical Take-Off and Landing project, called the VTOL X-Plane. The new program is DARPA's plan to kick-start private industury into creating a completely new type of aircraft. Project head Ashish Bagai says he wants nothing less than to spark a paradigm shift.
DARPA, which plans to put $150 million toward development of the X-Plane, is leaving the particulars of the aircraft's design wide open. Bagai says the new plane could be manned or unmanned and should have applications beyond just military. The agency expects to see a test flight in 42 months and hopes the chosen design will have demonstrated additional capabilities in 52 months.
Many of the uses envisioned for the VTOL X-Plane are tasks currently performed by helicopters: search and rescue, transportation of troops, surveillance, and delivery of special operations forces. The major added feature of the X-Plane will be the ability to go from take-off to arrival much, much faster: The project has set a performance standard at greater than 300 knots, or almost twice as fast as a state-of-the-art helicopter can go today.
Improved speed is the main goal for the X-Plane, but it's hardly the only one. DARPA also wants greater hover and cruise efficiency than existing helicopters. The final major design criterion is a useful load of over 40 percent of the aircraft's total weight. Not only should the new aircraft be faster than a helicopter, it should be more powerful, more efficient, and lighter, too.
Reaching these goals is not guaranteed; during a DARPA conference call last week, one reporter brought up a whole wheel of attempted and failed VTOL concepts, referring to it as the "Wheel of Shame." Bagai countered that it could also be seen as a wheel of fortune or opportunity, noting that many technologies in earlier eras have been redeveloped in modern times (though as airship enthusiasts will note, this hasn't always met with success.)
So DARPA thinks for $150,000,000 they're going to finally resolve what the gov't failed to do in 20 years and $36,500,000,000?
The only positive thing I can say is they know not to design an Osprey. I'd rather ride on a North Korean test missle than it.
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The glaring problem with VTOL, as can be seen in the "wheel of shame", is that the VTOL concept has historically been crudely retrofitted onto existing airframes. Perhaps DARPA is looking for an entirely new kind of airframe, not a novel way of slapping a few rotors on something already designed to fly a specific way. Seems a lot more plausible now than it was even 10 years ago. A few ideas jump to mind, but i'll keep those to myself for the time being ;)
Why don't they just look towards video games for this crap more often? I think something like the one in Halo or maybe Crysis would work...
I like that X3 helicopter and especially the large concept military version with a ramp in the back for quick troop deployment. The X3 has greatly proven itself as a fast and affordable platform. And it's here already and needs no new program. A program that anyone knows will run into tens of Billions of dollars while the goverment is already looking for massive cuts ahead.
150 million sounds like a good downpayment for a modern-day customized Zeppelin NT that might do the job-albeit slowly. Otherwise, that money will never see the light of day again!
I've been seeing flying wonders such as those that took off and landed while standing on their rear ends as "future concepts" in everything from elementary school weekly readers to 'movietone'-type military propaganda films over the last half-century. All of these projects wound up stillborn-just as this one eventually will- just like the personal "flying Humvee" and "cargo airships" they talked about recently. C'mon DARPA, haven't you guys jerked our chains enough?
Has DARPA already forgotten Project 1794, the U.S. attempt to build a flying saucer in the 1950s? The vehicle is on the Feb. cover of Popular Mechanics. It was also called the Avrocar and was supposed to take-off vertically then fly laterally at supersonic speeds. It never achieved much beyond a hover because of instability and the same thing that affected the original Flying Wing: the lack of computer controlled surfaces and vectored thrust. These craft were ahead of their time because they needed technology that hadn't been invented yet. The Flying Wing is now the B-2. Will DARPA's new design take anything from the Avrocar that was finally cancelled in 1961?
"useful load of over 40 percent of the aircraft's total weight"
You car's useful load is much less than 40 percent and they want this for an aircraft with VTOL twice as fast and efficent as current helicopters!!!
Can't my taxpayers money be spent on something more realistic?
Harrier Jump Jet??
Suppose the bigger question here, is it going to be a manned?
Loss the rotors, adds turbines.
In fact spend that 150million on a new propulsion system.
Make it nuclear!
While I appreciate that DARPA exists to develop advanced technologies, they should also realize that if someone had a viable concept for the technology they are asking for, they would have no trouble securing private funds for developing it.
There are existing military aircraft with the combination of VTOL capabilities and high speed flight (ie. the F-35B). It would also not require a great leap in technology to design an improved tilt-rotor capable of 300kt speeds.
I'd say that DARPA's best bet right now is what CarterCopter's coming up with. CarterCopter thinks their concept is scaleable up to the size of a 727 and good up to ~400 mph. See their CH-45 Heliplane.
My favorite is not even real, its from a movie (The 6th Day). If someone could actually build one, it would be cool.
I am by no means an aerospace engineer, but it seems like the design used would save some weight because the rotor/wings are one in the same... anyways check it out
In a fictitious economy, scale is no longer an issue. This is why DARPA and company can spend infinite amounts of 'money' on projects designed to lend credibility to the current technological 'gray age'. (much like the dark ages but with slicker press agents) Virtually no project is too big to attempt when such limitations are 'vanquished'.
Anyone with a halfway decent telescope/HD cam setup can duplicate the results of John Walson and peek through the gray and into the black. Many of the objects in our night skies that are commonly mistaken for stars, are in reality, large orbiting exotic spacecraft. One can confirm this for one's self with a simple laser pointer and/or strobe flashlight. Many are now doing so and posting results on UTEWB. Gravity was conquered largely by accident way back in the early 1900's. One may google - "flying triangles and the black holes on my fridge" to read but one of many of my personal experiences with exotic flying craft.
So you'll please pardon my *Yawn* at yet another misdirection designed to artifice-ally preserve a geriatric and false technological timeline.
This 'robbing Peter today, to pay Peter yesterday so that Paul chips in to help Peter even more' M.O. is a bit 'retro', don't you think?
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<a href="http://www.marukainfotech.com/Servies.aspx">hello</a> every one, I feel glad to know about this new flying object technology. this is the integration of jet and helicopter.
A great direction to look for a prototype would be the helicopter jets off Terminator Salvation- Mighty impressive
this concept they're trying create is just like plane in skynet (movie terminator 3)