Reno-based Valkyrie Systems aerospace has received a research-based contribution from the US Air Force to develop its amazing HoverJet Guardian concept, which includes both the electric VTOL and high rate-of-motion jet cruise with amphibious and hovercraft powers.
The USAF’s AFWERX High-Speed Vertical Takeoff and Landing concept sees the military throwing the floor open to a range of private companies for the ideas that will eventually lead to next-generation VTOL aircraft. Such an aircraft will be capable of performing quicker than the current VTOL machines like the V-22 Osprey.
The concept of Valkyrie’s HoverJet Guardian seems to fit the bill. It appears to be a strong, optionally-piloted jet aircraft having an eVTOL system built-in. A quadcopter layout is seemed to be used by the VTOL system having four props hiding in the holes in its wings. These help in getting off the ground in a civilized manner. But then a pair of Pratt & Whitney 545c turbofan engines take over.
The resultant speed is found to be 340 mph, a transonic top sprint speed of 700 mph, and 15 hours of endurance at altitudes up to 40,000 feet. This VTOL system will have to carry the Guardian at a maximum takeoff weight of 12000 lb. Since it will run on Jet fuel, energy storage won’t be an issue at all. Moreover, electric systems can be tuned for high power rather than efficiency.
VTOL aircraft is capable of taking off and landing on nearly any surface. The Guardian and its smaller brother, the Eagle UAV, are capable of landing on water and offering three modes of operation including aircraft, hovercraft, and amphibious. “What makes the Eagle unique,” says Valkyrie, “is the patented thrust vector control system, proprietary technology that enables it to operate in almost any terrain and/or adverse conditions.”
The company has not mentioned how much AFWERX is providing in its “market research investment,” nor has it publicly presented any prototype. The funding will allow Valkyrie to continue to develop the concept over the upcoming six months, working with USAF, USSACOM, and Collaboration.ai.
“The HSVTOL Concept Challenge has surfaced an impressive range and caliber of solutions to help us understand how to build a new class of air vehicles,” said Dr. Reid Melville, Chief Innovation Officer, Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL) Transformational Capabilities Office. “We believe the organizations selected to receive market research investments at this stage have the potential to deliver truly groundbreaking innovation.”