In combat situations, pilots carrying valuable supplies are vulnerable to attack when landing or taking off. A new, autonomous helicopter designed to transport cargo and drop it in places a plane — or even a pilot — can’t go could the solution.
Unlike conventional helicopters, the Transformer TX, being developed by Lockheed Martin and Piasacki aircraft, is being built with ducted fans that tilt to provide thrust, allow it to hover and enable to vehicle to take and land vertically. The fans are more efficient than ordinary “bare” propellers, since the duct directs the thrust and control air flow around the tips of the propellers.
The aircraft should be able to travel 250 miles in about an hour.
The payloads could be cargo, but the final design will also be able to carry people. One of the possible uses for such a craft is medical evacuation. Another is delivering a ground vehicle — essentially, making it into a flying car.
The first tests are expected in 2015.
Credit: Lockheed Martin