SPELCO Gryphon attack wing


Donald McKelvy
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14 August 2009
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Special Parachute and Logistics Consortium (SPELCO), a German venture between two companies, produces a variety of parachute systems, helmets, oxygen supplies, and other gear and services. One of their most interesting products is the Gryphon attack wing, a modular upgrade for parachute systems for use in “high-altitude, high-opening” (HAHO) jump missions, typically carried out by Special Forces. The 6-foot wing gives a glide ratio of 5:1, which means that a drop from 30,000 feet will allow the jumper to glide about 30 miles. SPELCO estimates that this would take around 15 minutes, giving an average speed of about 60 miles an hour.

“All equipment is hidden in a lifting body optimized for stealth, the radar-signature is extremely low,” says the Gryphon data sheet (PDF). “Detection of incoming Gryphon soldiers by airborne or ground radar will be extremely difficult.”

Gryphon has a guidance system and heads-up display navigation. With the addition of small turbojets used in UAVs, range is increased to more than 60 miles.

Source: "Look Out Below! Wingsuits Pushed for Airborne Assaults" by David Hambling on the Danger Room blog

Gryphon data sheet: http://www.spelco.eu/library/media/solutions/Gryphon.pdf



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what they are investigating right now is the means to do away with the parachute altogether..
avatar said:
what they are investigating right now is the means to do away with the parachute altogether..

Hard to land with that tiny wing area. If you land the 100 kg pilot + stuff at 10 m/s (100 m sprint speed) and have 5 square meters (they have far less in the video), you'd need a cL of about 4, which is not realistic. You really need bigger wings to go slower.
That is a central problem. You can make the drop aircraft less vulnerable by releasing further away, but how do you make the soldier less vulnerable once the chute opens? I could also see some issues with mid-air collisions if the soldiers are trying to all land in the same dropzone at night (and allowing for broad course corrections or even two passes over the dropzone would be a major advantage of such systems).

On possibility would be to pull up and bleed speed. If this is done with a parabolic trajectory and enough momentum it should be possible to reach a point where forward and vertical velocity are both zero. However, to do so might require diving through the ground. Another possibility would be to rappel down from a larger parachute (carrying a brace and rappel cable). ::)

Maybe the simplest approach is to use robots and/or daisy cutters to clear the dropzone ahead of the troops.
OR have a Buzz Lightyear type of semi-retractable wing that extends as landing nears... ::)
Well one the things being looked at right now, is to raise the nose towards the end of the descent, so as to accomplish a much flatter glide angle. This is of course done by plenty of conventional aircraft anyway. Also there is a possibility that the pilot could drop out of the wing and hang from it . this would make accomplishing the raised nose ( flare) maneuver much more easily.

Nevertheless wingloading is obviously a huge problem. but efforts to improve the glide ratio will continue ..
It's not glide ratio, it's the maximum lift coefficient. This is a problem with fast aircraft as well - you don't need so much wings while in the air since you're going fast anyway (lift is proportional to the square of velocity), but when landing, you need to go slow and still stay in the air. Of course the very first way to deal with this is to increase the angle of attack to the maximum lift point (if you increase AoA from that, you just stall and then you drop really fast). But it's not enough, since the lift is still dismally small, if your wings just are too small (or in a low lift configuration like with a very short span). Hence stuff like variable geometry, high lift devices like slats and flaps (which can also induce large moments so you need a tail to avoid going nose down), surface blowing...

There's a reason why hang gliders have a certain size - you have to be able to take off and land at human running speeds. You can't go much smaller than that in wing area.

Want to launch with a hang glider size wing from an aircraft? Probably someone has done even that, but is it practical for paratroops? Perhaps with some innovations like folding or inflation it can be done. But small variations to the pictured tiny solid composite wing approach are just never going to cut it for a direct no-parachute landing. It simply has too little lift, we're talking about an order of magnitude here.

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