The Army Is Definitely Still Working On A Hoverbike

A “Joint tactical aerial resupply vehicle,” to be technical

Let me cut to the landspeeder chase: the U.S. Army is currently working on a hoverbike. Last summer, when the Army expressed an interest in the hoverbike, Popular Science wrote about all the previous attempts at smaller, one-or-two person flying machines that the Army’s considered. In a rich history spanning mostly the 1950s and 1960s, the Army looked for some way to make an individual soldier airborne, in a useful way. And with a new, proven hoverbike design in the works, it seemed the 2010s could realize the abandoned dream of the 1960s.

Then, the army gave the hoverbike an underwhelming name. Calling it the “Tactical Reconnaissance Vehicle,” the hoverbike went from fanciful science fiction to something mundane enough to actually see use. “Tactical,” for short or immediate battle names, was fine. “Reconnaissance,” sure, it makes sense that this was a scout first, even if we had dreams of armed hoverbike chases in the future. “Vehicle,” it undeniably was that. This seemed real, very real, so bland it could be real. We haven’t heard much since.

Well, here’s the good news: the hoverbike is definitely still in the works, and it’s back with an even worse name. Major General Jim Richardson, director of Program Innovation and Integration for the U.S. Army Research Laboratory, toured the facilities at the Aberdeen Proving Ground last week.

From the Army Research Laboratory:

That’s right. The hoverbike, which was a Tactical Reconnaissance Vehicle, is now a “Joint Tactical Aerial Resupply Vehicle.” The name, which adds two words and gets worse every iteration, seems aggressively real, and while it no longer conjures images of speederbike races through forests, aerial resupply is still an important part of what the military does too.

Watch a short clip of the tour below. The hoverbike makes an appearance at 0:55 seconds.

Kelsey D. Atherton
Kelsey D. Atherton

is a defense technology journalist based in Albuquerque, New Mexico. His work on drones, lethal AI, and nuclear weapons has appeared in Slate, The New York Times, Foreign Policy, and elsewhere.