When combat vehicles fly: DARPA seeks to develop military land vehicle able to fly over obstacles and rough terrain

ARLINGTON, Va., 13 April 2010. Scientists at the U.S. Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) in Arlington, Va., are asking industry to develop and demonstrate a with vertical takeoff and landing (VTOL) capability to enable the vehicle to fly over road obstructions and rough terrain.

DARPA released a broad agency announcement (BAA solicitation 10-52) Monday for the Transformer (TX) Vertical Takeoff and Landing Roadable Air Vehicle program, which seeks to develop a four-person flyable/roadable vehicle that provides the warfighter terrain-independent mobility. The TX vehicle flying car will have a minimum combat range of 250 nautical miles on one tank of fuel.

The primary focus of the TX program is to develop an integrated suite of critical technologies that enable dual-mode transportation, VTOL capability, efficient flight performance, and a combat range comparable to today's military helicopters.

DARPA officials envision the TX vehicle for use in strike and raid, intervention, interdiction, insurgency/counterinsurgency, reconnaissance, medical evacuation and logistical supply operations.

Current transport systems limit warfighters to the ground with Humvees, which leaves them vulnerable to ambush, or to helicopters, which are limited in availability, DARPA officials say. TX would provide the best of both worlds. The TX vehicle cold avoid improvised explosive devices (IEDs) and ambushes, while improving mobility.

Technologies of interest may include: hybrid electric drive, advanced batteries, adaptive wing structures, ducted fan propulsion systems, advanced lightweight heavy fuel engines, lightweight materials, advanced sensors, and flight controls for stable transition from vertical to horizontal flight.

The TX vertical Takeoff and Landing Roadable Air Vehicle program has two basic parts: design and demonstrate the vehicle itself, and develop critical enabling technologies for the vehicle.

The first program component seeks to develop a robust field vehicle at reasonable cost, identify enabling technologies, build a full-scale prototype, prove the vehicle's military utility through simulation, and suggest a production plan.

The second program component seeks to develop enabling technologies like lightweight propulsion systems, reconfigurable wing structures, ducted fans, flight control technology, and lightweight ground vehicle design. Each program component will be in three phases, worth a total of about $54 million, DARPA officials say.

Companies interested should send proposals no later than 27 May 2010 to DARPA's Stephen Waller by e-mail at DARPA-BAA-10-52@darpa.mil, or by post or hand delivery to DARPA/TTO, ATTN: BAA 10-52, 3701 North Fairfax Drive, Arlington, VA 2203-1714, Attn: Stephen Waller.

For questions or concerns, contact Stephen Waller by e-mail at DARPA-BAA-10-52@darpa.mil, or by fax at 703-696-8401.

More information is online at https://www.fbo.gov/spg/ODA/DARPA/CMO/DARPA-BAA-10-52/listing.html.

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