Texas-based start-up AVX has adapted a concept for a compound, coaxial rotor system unveiled three months ago to a new application for a flying jeep.
The company founded by mainly former Bell Helicopter engineers submitted the "tactical fly-drive vehicle" concept to the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA).
The proposal is offered under DARPA's Transformer (TX) programme, which seeks to demonstrate a four-person vehicle that provides "terrain-independent mobility". AVX claims its TX design can carry a 471kg (1,040lb) payload over 463km (250nm), fly at speeds of up to 120kt (225km/h) and travel on land at speeds of up to 129km/h (80mph). The vehicle can convert from road mode to flight mode in 60s.
The aircraft concept features the distinctive rotor system that AVX originally proposed in April in a different application.
The US Army also is soliciting ideas for an Armed Aerial Scout that may replace the OH-58D Kiowa Warrior.
AVX, led by former Bell chief engineer Troy Gaffey, proposed adapting the OH-58D airframe with a coaxial rotor for lift and compound ducted fans mounted on the tail to provide forward thrust.
In both the helicopter and flying jeep application, the ducted fans can be tilted forwards to provide speed and upwards to offer additional lift. In jeep mode, the coaxial rotors are folded aft of the vehicle.
"The design is very adaptable and can be configured for many different size and types of vehicles," says Gaffey.