Darpa wants to rethink helicopters as vertical aircraft

Helicopters: Darpa Tries To Rethink Vertical Aircraft

Darpa wants to rethink the helicopter so it goes faster.

Darpa stands for Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency.

Helicopters are incredible flying machines, capable of maneuvering in tight places and hauling cargo several times their size. Helicopters can even take off vertically, eliminating the need for a runway or air strip. However, the average helicopter’s speed leaves much to be desired.

The Marine aircraft known as the Osprey is a jet that basically does everything a helicopter can. So Darpa wants to, as Tim Allen’s character in Home Improvement would say, “rewire it.”

The rethinking process Darpa is considering involves a better version of helicopters, jump-jets and tilt-rotors, making it all faster. Darpa believes it’s possible to make an aircraft faster without sacrificing the advantages a helicopter has over the average passenger plane. The current variety is very vulnerable on vertical take-off and landing due to the slow acceleration and deceleration.

According to Wired, program manager Ashish Bagai told reporters during a conference call:

“What we’re interested in doing is flying much faster than we have been able to do with helicopters. We want to fly at improved efficiencies, both in hover and at forward flight, 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 sees the technology we have available but wants to think outside the box and invent new theories that will enable the perfect air fighter to be born. They are attempting to jump a few hurdles with the VTOL (Vertical Take-Off and Landing) X-Plane aircraft, a project that could either reset the world of military flight, or fail, leaving us none the worse for wear. The VTOL X-Plane appears to be a hybrid between the helicopter and the stealth fighter.

What do you think might help Darpa rethink the helicopter?