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  • Is Darpa's Fly-Drive Transformer on the Right Road?
    Posted by Graham Warwick 8:02 PM on Oct 24, 2011

    Darpa says AAI and Lockheed Martin have "feasible designs" for its Transformer (TX) "flying Humvee" and both have moved into Phase 2 of the program to demonstrate a prototype fly-drive tactical vehicle.

    This will lead to preliminary design reviews at the end of the third quarter of fiscal 2012, after which Darpa will decide whether to
    select one team to proceed into Phase 3, which would culminate in ground and flight demonstrations of a prototype TX in mid-fiscal 2015.

    Transformer is not simply a roadable aircraft -- it is a four-seat vehicle that must be able to drive off-road, survive small-arms fire, and rapidly reconfigure into an aircraft that can take off and land vertically and be flown without pilot training.

    Meeting these requirements is pushing the state of the art in lightweight materials and structures, high power-to-weight engines and autonomous flight controls. But "there is convergence, we are seeing feasible designs," says Darpa Transformer program manager Stephen Waller, speaking at a recent AIAA conference.

    But huge challenges lie ahead in balancing the size, weight and power requirements for a sufficiently rugged fly-drive tactical vehicle.You can read and see more about the program over on Aviation Week's technology blog Leading Edge. Meanwhile, here are the latest published configurations for the two designs:

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    Concept: AAI

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    Concept: Lockheed Martin and Piasecki Aircraft

    Tags: ar99, Darpa

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