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DARPA Transformer (TX) vehicle program

Orionblamblam

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Re: AVX TX

As roaedable aircraft go, that ain't bad. I've always prefered roadable helicopters to roadable airplanes... not only is stowage a lot easier and more convenient, operationally it makes a lot of sense. If you're bopping down the road and have the sudden need to take flight, the ability to do so *vertically* is a hell of a bonus.
 

Abraham Gubler

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Re: AVX TX

I’m still really at a loss as to why the military need a roadable VTOL platform? There may be good civil reasons for such a beast but for the military if you can fly, why drive? Sure there is a good argument for a VTOL platform that will land, stay and observe, multiple times in a mission but in all of its mobility phases flying makes more sense. All roadability gives you is complexity in the form of a second motive system, folding rotors, etc.
 

The Artist

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Re: AVX TX

I can see where some police departments would like to have something like this.
 

robunos

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Re: AVX TX

It's the 'Jumping Jeep' all over again...


cheers,
Robin.
 

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Re: AVX TX

All electric drive in the ground mode with a generator/alternator driven off of the same gas turbine would make the most sense IMO as far as powering the wheels. Also a single ducted fan in the rear rather than the two outboard ones. Also electric?
 

Abraham Gubler

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Re: AVX TX

Kevin Renner said:
All electric drive in the ground mode with a generator/alternator driven off of the same gas turbine would make the most sense IMO as far as powering the wheels. Also a single ducted fan in the rear rather than the two outboard ones. Also electric?
Thats going to be a very big electric motor to get the kind of torque needed for an aircraft propulsion fan. Also your wheel generator/motors are additional weight. Nothing wrong with a bit of gearing for this application.
 

Triton

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Re: AVX TX

Another DARPA Transformer (TX) "flying Humvee" concept, the Logi AeroSpace Tyrannos.

Source:

Warwick, Graham "Ducted-fan Flying Humvee Unveiled" Ares July 6, 2010
http://www.aviationweek.com/aw/blogs/defense/index.jsp?plckController=Blog&plckBlogPage=BlogViewPost&newspaperUserId=27ec4a53-dcc8-42d0-bd3a-01329aef79a7&plckPostId=Blog%3a27ec4a53-dcc8-42d0-bd3a-01329aef79a7Post%3ab4011bcc-5260-4924-93d3-eaedeebb1ebf&plckScript=blogScript&plckElementId=blogDest
 

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The Artist

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Re: AVX TX

Is that Flying Humvee serious?

I'm with the force fighting against the evil imperialist American invasion of Grand Finwicke and I see that thing coming in to land or just flying over to see what I'm doing - I'll fire my cannons at those fans on the wingtips. We may not have an air force here but even I can see that all I have to do is knock out one of those fans and the thing will be in trouble.

Seriously. I can't see that design being used in combat.
 

yasotay

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Re: AVX TX

It will be interesting to see how this turns out. To my knowledge the military has not actually defined a requirement for a flying jeep. As wonderful as it sounds, unless there are some really swell 21st Century maintenance to go with it, I think the increased logistics and maintenance requirements will play against it. Now all my mechanics have to be air system certified as well. They will need to make the flight controls very 21st Century as well or every other man in the military is going to have to be a rated pilot. Pilots cost a lot of money to train and feed.

As to why fans might be good. Open rotors are not so attractive in cities. Bump a building with a rotor blade and you and your crew are history. Given the propensity of folks in less developed parts of the world to string wires in a carefree manner; same result. Operating around rotor systems in confined spaces is rather risky as well. So I think that guarded rotor systems will become more desirable as more and more conflicts migrate into urban environments. Their are drawbacks to their use though. Disk loading. etc.

Another positive for the concept is that it does give you the benefits of flying. The environment the west finds itself operating in today certainly gives a good demonstration. It can take several hours to a day to get a vehicle around mountains on serpentine trails. Ones the enemy likely know are the only way to and from parts of the country. So you could drive down the road to a certain point, takeoff and avoid chokepoints (river bridges, switchback curves) and get to outpost and other positions. Also rotor systems are noisy. So you fly to a point land, go to electric power and drive quietly (preferably at night) into the objective area with less probability of letting the enemy know you are around.

It will be interesting to see if the military will find the capability to be worth the cost.
 

Triton

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Re: AVX TX

Artist's impression of Lockheed Martin TX concept.

Source:
http://www.aviationweek.com/aw/blogs/defense/index.jsp?plckController=Blog&plckBlogPage=BlogViewPost&newspaperUserId=27ec4a53-dcc8-42d0-bd3a-01329aef79a7&plckPostId=Blog%3a27ec4a53-dcc8-42d0-bd3a-01329aef79a7Post%3ad70fa56b-24c3-4bfc-bf28-a7fe93bad65b&plckScript=blogScript&plckElementId=blogDest
 

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Triton

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Re: AVX TX

Artist's impression of AAI TX concept.

Source:
http://www.aviationweek.com/aw/blogs/defense/index.jsp?plckController=Blog&plckBlogPage=BlogViewPost&newspaperUserId=27ec4a53-dcc8-42d0-bd3a-01329aef79a7&plckPostId=Blog%3a27ec4a53-dcc8-42d0-bd3a-01329aef79a7Post%3ad70fa56b-24c3-4bfc-bf28-a7fe93bad65b&plckScript=blogScript&plckElementId=blogDest
 

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Triton

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Re: AVX TX

Transformer (TX)
Program Manager: Mr. Stephen Waller

The Transformer (TX) vehicle program will examine the feasibility and approaches for developing vertical take-off and landing, road-worthy vehicles that carry a 4-person payload >250 NM on one tank of fuel, can safely travel on roads, and can be operated by a typical soldier. The goal is to define the major components and overall design of a TX vehicle that would be suitable for military scouting, personnel transport, and logistics missions. Technical areas that will be explored include: hybrid electric drive ducted fan propulsion system, ring motors, energy storage methods such as batteries and ultra capacitors, morphing vehicle bodies, and advanced flight controls and flight management systems. The TX vehicle is intended to make roads irrelevant for military small unit maneuvers. These units can use TX air vehicles to fly over obstacles or impassible terrain, avoid ambushes and improvised explosive devices (IEDs). Personal TX vehicles could be dispatched for downed airman recovery or for evacuating injured personnel from difficult to access locations, or to resupply isolated small units. Four-man versions would be suitable for enhanced company operations concepts which would allow the soldier/team to see the situation and pick the best place to “drop in” for urban operations.

Source:
http://www.darpa.mil/tto/programs/tx/index.html
 

Triton

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Re: AVX TX

Would a moderator be so kind as to rename this topic "DARPA Transformer (TX) vehicle program"? Thank you.
 

Stargazer2006

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Re: AVX TX

Abraham Gubler said:
I’m still really at a loss as to why the military need a roadable VTOL platform? There may be good civil reasons for such a beast but for the military if you can fly, why drive? Sure there is a good argument for a VTOL platform that will land, stay and observe, multiple times in a mission but in all of its mobility phases flying makes more sense. All roadability gives you is complexity in the form of a second motive system, folding rotors, etc.
I believe there is a real potential for Army and Marines special ops missions. Otherwise, the best application would be for police operation, for instance tracking down a criminal or a rogue driver and chasing them on the highways.
 

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The Los Angeles Times reported on this concept with the headline "A military Humvee that flies". That immediately raises in the reader's mind the question as to why one would choose one of the heaviest four wheel vehicles on the planet as the basis of a flying vehicle. The story goes on to announce the award of a $1M contract to P&W Rocketdyne for the design of a propulsion system.

The article was illustrated with a rear-quarter view of the AAI concept, which shows a HUMVEE-like vehicle with two-bladed rotor, pivoting wings, and a ducted propulsor. The cabin is completely open, showing the occupants firing at ground targets. This is obviously some artist's concept, but raises some questions as to the concept of operations. What is the necessity for wings if it already has rotor (rotary wing)? The configuration is obviously not fast enough to require the wing to unload the rotor, as in a compound helicopter. The open cabin, providing no ballistic protection for the occupants, is the antithesis of the up-armored HUMVEEs developed as a response to IEDs in Iraq and Afghanistan. This thing had better fly a lot and stay off the roads. In answer to "yasotay"'s concern about the cost of having every other soldier a rated pilot, the news story reports that the vehicle would be robotic, with no pilot or driver (!) Further, the DARPA specifications are for a 1,000 pound payload (4 x 250 pound crew?) and a 287 mile range.

This appears to be another poorly conceived DARPA project that does not take into consideration the requirements of the end users.
The oblique flying wing and the Cormorant submarine-launched-and-recovered UAV were other examples of this.
 

Grey Havoc

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Original (pre)solicitation

https://www.fbo.gov/index?s=opportunity&mode=form&id=9b745d803c1d206f16fd6f64542eadd6&tab=core&_cview=0

including

TX BAA Version 62 & Appendix A.pdf


By the way, it appears that SoloTrek developer, Trek Aerospace (formerly Millennium Jet) was, at least at one stage, a consultant on the program.
 

SteveO

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I think this capability would be better met by using a Kaman K-MAX style small UAV supply helicopter that clamps on to the roof of an off the shelf vehicle and can be controlled by remote control pad or just flies to coordinates.

The UAV would just be the engine, gearbox, rotors, electronics in a aerodynamic fairing that would fold up a bit on the roof or maybe a trailer. It would also be able to detach for surveillance or operate on it's own for the resupply mission.

Basically it's a rotary wing JDAM kit for light vehicles and cargo pallets ;)
 

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http://www.theregister.co.uk/2010/10/21/transformer_tx_engine_deal/

.....The design of the TX is yet to be settled. It might be a specially-pimped gyrocraft jumpcopter as pictured above, or an alternative ducted-fan-in-wing job from aerospace behemoth Lockheed (details on that variant remain scant). However, it now appears that whichever design is chosen, the powerplant is likely to be an EnduroCORE wonder-diesel rather than a noisy, thirsty, high-maintenance turbine.

That caused us to sit up here on the Reg flying-car desk. We got in touch with Scott Claflin, Rocketdyne bigwig in charge of "Power Innovations", to find out some more.

According to Claflin, the EnduroCORE is neither a regular piston diesel, nor yet a trendy turbocharged job. He describes it as "a novel type of rotary engine" that can run on any heavy fuel - military JP-8 or regular diesel are both fine. He confirms the marketing hype, saying that EnduroCORE "will have an installed power-to-weight similar to gas turbine engines".

Unfortunately Claflin wouldn't be drawn on further specifics, saying that the EnduroCORE tech is a proprietary company secret - and in any case counts as valuable military technology and so is subject to US war-tech-control laws.....


.....Terrific - but as ever with flying-car stories, there are a couple of caveats. Firstly, Rocketdyne specifies that "high rotating speeds" are required to get maximum poke from EnduroCORE. This is a hint that some burdens associated with turbines may still exist - the need for complicated and trouble-prone gearboxes as in today's helicopters, for instance, not to mention high-speed bearings and so forth in the engine itself. Doubtless an EnduroCORE-powered US Marine hoverjeep would be cheaper to run than a helicopter, but it probably won't be as cheap as an ordinary Humvee.....
 

VTOLicious

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Skunk Works Transformer

In its original requirements for Transformer, DARPA asked participants to “demonstrate a four-person flyable/roadable vehicle that provides the warfighter terrain-independent mobility…. The vehicle will have VTOL capability with a minimum combat range of 250 nautical miles on a single tank of fuel.”
The scope of the program has since been refined to focus on the common VTOL lift module that could adapt for multiple missions with interchangeable payloads.
After being selected for the second phase of DARPA’s Transformer program in 2011, the Lockheed Martin team matured its concept and completed a preliminary design review with DARPA and other technical experts in 2012.The preliminary design was the basis for the Phase 3 effort, which involves designing and building the prototype system. Lockheed Martin won the $20.3 million Phase 3 contract in late 2012 to perform detail design work and risk reduction tests that lead to a Critical Design Review. Following this review, DARPA will decide if it will exercise a further option to build and then fly the prototype in 2015.
...I can't imagine that this concept will work out. Wouldn't it need at least one more fan to achieve proper pitch stability and control in hover? ???

http://www.codeonemagazine.com/article.html?item_id=118
http://www.codeonemagazine.com/gallery_slideshow.html?gallery_id=156

Rgds Michael
 

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John21

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I figured this would have been cut/canceled with all the CR, budget and sequestration issues. If I was in charge I sure as heck would have a canceled it. The whole concept seems silly and a waste of tax payer money.
 

sferrin

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John21 said:
I figured this would have been cut/canceled with all the CR, budget and sequestration issues. If I was in charge I sure as heck would have a canceled it. The whole concept seems silly and a waste of tax payer money.
x212
 

yasotay

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I agree that it is not readily practical BUT it does have some basic research worth merit. Simplified aircraft control laws, automated air/ground behaviors that could make combat flight operations something not requiring significant time. Long shot but compared to the mega-billions spent on stealth and space it is a trivial project for DARPA. The hypersonic program probably spends more on toiletpaper and cleaning supplies. My point is that if you are going to solve budget problems just killing all of the small programs is not going to do much more than get some of the low cost high payoff (not this one necessarily this one) projects killed.

Besides I have been waiting since the 60's for my Jetson's air car. I have given up my plans to retire to the moon base.
 

sferrin

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yasotay said:
Besides I have been waiting since the 60's for my Jetson's air car. I have given up my plans to retire to the moon base.
I wish people would remember that a "flying car", in the sense that 99% of the people are thinking of, isn't a car that can fly. It's an aircraft that is as compact, cost-effective, and practical to fly as a car is to drive.
 

yasotay

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sferrin said:
yasotay said:
Besides I have been waiting since the 60's for my Jetson's air car. I have given up my plans to retire to the moon base.
I wish people would remember that a "flying car", in the sense that 99% of the people are thinking of, isn't a car that can fly. It's an aircraft that is as compact, cost-effective, and practical to fly as a car is to drive.
.. right a CAR. Civil Aircraft Robotic ;D
Besides George parked in a garage, not a hangar. Dropped his kids off at school and his wife went shopping with it.
CAR!!
B)
 

sferrin

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yasotay said:
sferrin said:
yasotay said:
Besides I have been waiting since the 60's for my Jetson's air car. I have given up my plans to retire to the moon base.
I wish people would remember that a "flying car", in the sense that 99% of the people are thinking of, isn't a car that can fly. It's an aircraft that is as compact, cost-effective, and practical to fly as a car is to drive.
.. right a CAR. Civil Aircraft Robotic ;D
Besides George parked in a garage, not a hangar. Dropped his kids off at school and his wife went shopping with it.
CAR!!
B)
This B) :


Not this :eek: :
 

yasotay

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Well yeah!
Top one your neighbors envy you.
Bottom ones your neighbors giggle at you.
 

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And "this" (top one) probably accidentally shows, why flying cars of this kind and
usage won't appear, at least not, until they can be flown fully autonomous. Of course,
there are enough collisions on the streets, too, but in most cases at least the debris then
remains there and won't come crashing through your roof !
 

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sferrin

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At first glance, yes. Although there are ways around that. One could simply make the licensing requirements much more stringent. You wouldn't need to make it autonomous (at least not completely). And you'd need to look at safety. I don't think any of the issues are unsolvable. I'd put the power/energy to weight problem right at the top of the list though.
 

yasotay

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Jemiba said:
And "this" (top one) probably accidentally shows, why flying cars of this kind and
usage won't appear, at least not, until they can be flown fully autonomous. Of course,
there are enough collisions on the streets, too, but in most cases at least the debris then
remains there and won't come crashing through your roof !
SkyNet will take care of that for you. All you have to do is sit back and watch the news on your tablet while sipping your Starbucks coffee globe.
 

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It's interesting that the TX designs shown are now the air component hived off as a UAV+cargo style, so the car is just yet another cargo type. A cargo UAV with a standardized payload interface, rather than a sling hook like the K-max. Swap for a weapons pallet and you have an improvised UCAV. Just need to carry assorted stuff, use the cargo pod, which can carry ammo in and limited cas-evac out. The car is a bit on the bigger side, and most people need limited cargo delivery anyways usually. Imagine a FOB ending out hot food to farther flung positions and patrols/sentinels?

Military equivalent of matternet (aka FedEx Tacocopter)?
 

yasotay

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Interesting. So now the lifting device is a seperate system. Still not sure I would want to be the passenger if I don't have any way to control the beasty.
 

Triton

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yasotay said:
Interesting. So now the lifting device is a seperate system. Still not sure I would want to be the passenger if I don't have any way to control the beasty.
The latest concept reminds me of the AVE Mizar. Didn't the airframe separate from the Ford Pinto killing inventor Henry Smolinski who was at the controls?

The flying car shown in the James Bond film The Man with the Golden Gun (1974) was originally intended to be the AVE Mizar. Because of the fatal accident, a radio controlled miniature was used for the sequence instead.
 

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Unlike the Mizar though, if the lifter is independent, is there an operational need for direct flight control linkage? With UAV remote control/guidance a wireless affair, the cargo interface could be substantially simplified to really be just a structural hardpoint. Hell, it might start to resemble androgynous docking equipment in spacecraft.
 

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Via MilitaryPhotos.net: http://www.armyrecognition.com/august_2013_defense_industry_military_army_news_uk/russia_will_develop_an_hybrid_vehicle_that_combines_features_of_armoured_and_helicopter_0208132.html
 
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