DARPA (Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency) has been looking for something like a tactical “Chitty Chitty Bang Bang” (to steal one writers description of it) for a long time now. It’s apparently actually in the works. Aviation Week recently just approved designs from AAI and Lockheed Martin to enter the second phase of the testing program which is (seriously) named the “Transformer Program”.
The goal is to have a diesel powered battlefield utility vehicle like the humvee able to lift and carry a squad of four personnel with their loadout. This may or may not be practical in the wide scheme, but it would sure make it easier to get up some of those shitty goat trails roads in Afghanistan than walking with everything on your back.
The idea of a flying vehicle is by no means new of course. It’s been the topic of design discussion for years and a standard trope in science fiction for just as long. We’ve seen them in everything from Bladerunner to the Jetsons. That doesn’t mean it won’t have some use of course, and in certain situation might be the transportation force multiplier needed. Some concerns arise…how do we qualify the driver/pilot? Will the Air Force complain, like they did about the UAVs? Will we have to add some sort of aerial vehicle acronym to METT-C to avoid traffic jams and midair collisions? Who knows. One things for certain. If they do get to the field, and the infantry gets hold of them it’s going to make for all new kinds of entertaining once they get bored.
Read the rest of the story over at Techland.