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Wednesday, December 1, 2010

futuristic flying car that's a helicopter and a plane AND a Humvee

It is the latest weapon to defeat the Taliban - a James Bond-style armoured car that can fly.
The U.S. military is developing a revolutionary vehicle which combines a road-going Army truck with a helicopter.

The state-of-the-art four-wheel vehicle will be fitted with rotor blades and wings - allowing it to take to the skies to avoid hazards such as roads strewn with deadly improvised explosive devices (IEDs).

Military chiefs believe the American-made vehicle will transform the fortunes of troops battling insurgents in Afghanistan.

It would be similar to a Humvee vehicle for patrolling on the ground but could turn into a helicopter at the touch of a button in an emergency.

Troops could manoeuvre past lethal roadside bombs, improve resupply operations to remote patrol bases and insert elite Special Forces into Taliban strongholds.

The vehicle would also enable soldiers to escape quickly by air if they were caught in a Taliban ambush.

It would also reduce the time required to evacuate wounded soldiers from the battlefield because they would not need to wait for a medical helicopter - increasing the chances of survival.

The Pentagon's Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) has launched a £41million programme to develop a flying armoured vehicle that can carry four servicemen or women.

The vehicle - which uses composite armour to protect crew from gunfire, IED blasts and missiles - would be able to travel 280 miles by land or in the air. It could take-off and land vertically - like the Royal Navy's Harrier jump jets - to increase access to rugged terrain.

Fitted with automatic flight controls, it could be flown by someone who was not a qualified pilot - increasing its flexibility.
And it would be fitted with machineguns and cannons to kill and maim attacking insurgents.

The 20ft car could reach speeds of around 65mph on the ground and more than 150mph in the air.

A prototype of the vehicle, dubbed the Transformer, or TX, could be ready by 2015 when British and U.S. troops are still in Afghanistan.

A DARPA spokesman said: 'We are seeking to combine the advantages of ground vehicles and helicopters into a single vehicle equipped with flexibility of movement.

'The concept is to provide options to avoid traditional and asymmetrical threats while avoiding road obstructions.

'With this type technology, transportation will no longer be restricted to trafficable terrain that tends to make movement predictable.'

Terrafugia, a company which has already pioneered a flying car for commercial use, has been drafted in to help produce a prototype armoured truck.

The commercial vehicle, which costs about £132,000 - a similar price to a Ferrari - has wings rather than rotor blades with a 27ft span when lowered. This means it needs 1,700 of clear road to take-off.
A military source said: 'We take an interest in the development of all new technology that may have the potential to help our Armed Forces, no matter how ambitious they may appear to be.'

By Ian Drury

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DARPA: Team Blue Ghostrider


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