The US Army is always looking to upgrade its military arsenal, and perhaps its most intriguing and ambitious vision of the future involves innovative helicopter and aircraft design. No doubt driven by JSOC’s (Joint Special Operations Command) need for rapid transport to almost any part of the world at a single moment’s notice, the US Army has commissioned several grants to inspire aeronautical advances among competing firms and research centers. Under the Future Vertical Lift (FVL) and the Joint Multi-Role (JMR) Technology Demonstrator programs, the US Army hopes to develop and deploy “rotary-winged machines for use across all the military branches.” These include a variety of helicopters and aircraft fitted with any combination of body fans, tilted-wing fans, and dual coaxial motors. Although many of these models remain in their design infancy, the goal is to develop faster, lighter helicopters capable of enduring any weather conditions and able to fulfill a range of functions such as transporting soldiers, flying reconnaissance, gathering intelligence, and engaging in air-to-ground combat with greater efficiency.
1. Fire Scout, version MQ-8c
Built by Northrop Grunman, this is the next generation in unmanned helicopters. According to the company, the MQ-8C will have “more than twice the endurance and three times the payload carrying capacity ” when compared to its predecessor.
2. AVX Aircraft
The AVX boasts dual coaxial motors and ducted fans, designed to accommodate a sizable rear ramp for “the loading and unloading of cargo and troops.”
3. The Phantom Swift
The Phantom Swift is Boeing’s answer to the VTOL X-Plane program, part of DARPA’s initiative to build aircraft capable of vertical takeoff and landing. The Phantom Swift will handle flying under any inclement weather and land on almost any surface.