What is VTOL aircraft?
Helicopter is a great invention. It can operate in small spaces, carry heavy things, and take off and land without the need for airport, which is probably its biggest advantage. Military tried to add this feature to fighter jet, resulting in Harrier jet, or the new F35B, but the results are far from ideal.
That is why Pentagon’s DARPA is trying to reimagine helicopter and jump jets. This type of machines is known under name VTOL aircraft, which means Vertical Take-Off and Landing, and now it should get a much needed boost.
The main weakness of VTOL aircraft is its low descend and ascend speed, which makes it vulnerable to enemy attacks. And the flight speed is not exactly superfast either.
That is why DARPA launches the VTOL aircraft program. The main goal is to rethink the design of any vertically landing and taking-off machine to make it significantly faster and more efficient.
What we’re interested in doing is flying much faster than we have been able to do with helicopters,” says program manager Ashish Bagai. Today, most VTOL aircrafts fly at around 170 knots maximum. DARPA wants to get to 300 knots. “We want to fly at improved efficiencies, both in hover and at forward flight,” Bagai points out, “and we want to demonstrate this is possible without sacrificing the ability to do useful work. And to do this concurrently is a very big challenge.”
DARPA admits it does not have any specific ideas in development, and takes the project as a creative exercise that could help it to make a break from current slow pace of small improvements to old technology. DARPA aims to have a first flight test of experimental design in 42 months.
Would you like to see VTOL in action? So check out this awesome video below:
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