The United States Air Force is set to launch 35 new aircraft concepts that can revolutionize personal flight. The service received 218 applications for a new high-speed vertical take-off and landing (HSVTOL) aircraft, and one or more finalists could be put into production. The goal is to create Jeep-type planes that are not limited to airfield runways and operate in remote locations.
HSVTOL’s primary vocation is to exploit new technologies, in particular electric aircraft. The planes are designed to carry one to twelve people and hover like a helicopter using rotating propellers, ducted fans and other technology.
This involves rotating the engine nacelles 90 degrees from a down push position to a forward push position while the aircraft is in flight. The V-22 Osprey tiltrotor was the first aircraft to use this technology, which has the advantage of requiring only one set of engines for vertical and horizontal flight.
The HSVTOL Concept Challenge was first announced in 2017 by AFWERX, an Air Force program for startups. The program issued a request for proposals in May, which was extended for one month. Finally, in August, the program presented some of the more viable options.
But what kind of plane will be successful? Currently the Air Force is looking for a modern jeep. Willys-Overland created a small all-terrain vehicle for four people in the months leading up to WWII. The US military bought 637,000 of them and used them in stretchers, anti-tank vehicles, battlefield surveillance and VIP driver. The US military even deployed a Jeep with a nuclear weapon in the late 1950s, turning the simple vehicle into one of the most formidable weapons in history.
This is precisely what the Air Force wants, only it now believes that new technologies have matured to the point where it can achieve a flying Jeep of the 21st century. The Air Force wants HSVTOL planes capable of picking up downed airmen behind enemy lines, shuttle maintainers, and troops from large air bases to small remote airfields, and delivering weapons, spares and supplies. equipment as needed.
The Jetoptera J-2000 is one of the 35 models that have progressed in the competition. It is a one or two person aircraft with a capacity of 450 to 800 pounds, a top speed of 200 mph, and a range of 200 miles. Meanwhile, the J-4000 is a larger aircraft that can carry four people.
Jetoptera’s aircraft features unique fluidic propulsion technology. He claims that by taking a holistic approach to engine and aircraft design, it can improve propulsion efficiency while reducing fuel consumption and overall weight.
The FusionFlight JetQuad is another aircraft design that has lived up to expectations. The aircraft’s propulsion technology is similar to that of the AV-8B Harrier II used by the Marine Corps. The JetQuad is a technological prototype that aspires to become a medical evacuation drone capable of transporting a single injured passenger to a field hospital. Another larger design is a vertical take-off and landing plane that can carry two people.
One of the most prominent models in HVSTOL competition is the Advanced Tactics Barracuda. It is a beast with a helicopter shaped cockpit and fuselage and a propeller plane shaped tail assembly. It has four propellers and a high wing design. The propeller nacelles are mounted on oscillating pylons which allow the craft to fly like a helicopter before switching to propeller-airplane mode. With 14 seats and a maximum payload of 12,500 pounds, the Barracuda is larger than a US Army UH-60 Blackhawk helicopter. According to Advanced Tactics, the aircraft will sail at 400 knots. According to the manufacturer, the aircraft should have a range of 2,400 nautical miles in vertical mode and 3,200 miles in airplane mode.
The twenty-first century flying Jeep is most likely a near future development. The combination of tilt rotor technology, microturbines and computer aided flight controls could lead to a compact utility vehicle for the Air Force and other services. In addition, technology would most certainly find its place in commercial and even personal flight.