A new, amphibious hybrid VTOL will reach top speeds of 700 mph
U.S. aviation firm Valkyrie Systems Aerospace received a research grant from the U.S. Air Force to help develop its HoverJet Guardian concept, a hybrid eVTOL and high-speed jet system, according to NewAtlas.
The USAF is looking to fund concepts for fast-flying VTOL aircraft that could vastly improve its combat and cargo capabilities. The HoverJet Guardian concept is a jet aircraft with an in-built eVTOL system that was designed to provide the high speeds of jet aircraft alongside the added maneuverability of Vertical Take-Off and Landing (VTOL) systems.
Impressively, the machine will be able to run using three different modes, "aircraft, hovercraft, and amphibious." This means it will be able to land on and traverse over water. Valkyrie also says the aircraft can be flown autonomously or with a pilot. However, the firm has yet to showcase these capabilities to the world and it hasn't, so far, revealed any prototypes. Still, such flexible usability, alongside the promise of immense speed, is no doubt the reason for strong backing from the USAF.
US Air Force back high-speed VTOL
The HoverJet Guardian concept uses a VTOL system featuring four propellers for take-off and landings. Once in the air, it switches over to a pair of Pratt & Whitney 545c turbofan engines with a combined 8,200 pounds of horizontal thrust. Valkyrie says the configuration allows it to reach a cruise speed of 340 mph (547 km/h) and a transonic top speed of 700 mph (1,127 km/h) when in horizontal flight.
The firm also claims the HoverJet will be capable of 15 hours of endurance at altitudes of up to 40,000 feet (12,192 m). The aircraft will measure 30 feet (9.1 m) long with a wingspan of 24 feet (7.3 m) and it will have a maximum takeoff weight of 12,000 lb (5,443 kg).
The new funding, granted via the USAF's AFWERX program, will allow Valkyrie to continue the development process for another six months, after which we may finally see a prototype of the impressive-sounding machine. The Air Force has invested in several high-speed VTOL concepts in recent months, including Bell's high-speed VTOL, or HSVTOL, concept partially inspired by its own V-22 Osprey tiltrotor aircraft.