It's like something out of a Transformers movie. Or perhaps The Jetsons.
The Pentagon office in charge of looking at futuristic technology has asked industry for ideas on whether it's feasible to build a vehicle that can be driven — and flown.
And a fledgling Fort Worth business, AVX Aircraft Co., says yeah, we can do that — if you give us the money to try.
AVX, a recent newcomer populated largely by former Bell Helicopter employees, responded to the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency request for ideas for its Transformer program. AVX's plans are for a four-person fly/drive vehicle that can go 250 miles on a tank of fuel.
Envision a space-age version of the Willys jeep with a helicopter rotor for vertical takeoffs and landings and ducted fans for speedy forward flight. And most any soldier could drive or fly it. No pilot's license would be needed.
AVX released a statement Monday with details of its proposal to the government and artist renderings of what the aerial vehicle would look like.
This isn't a giant Pentagon contract. At least not yet. DARPA plans on spending about $9 million at first and $54 million eventually for contractors to do designs and studies, show that the technology works and build prototypes.
The concept has evolved from the U.S. operations in Iraq and Afghanistan, where the biggest dangers faced by troops comes from hidden improvised explosive devices. Presumably, the Pentagon thinks soldiers in such vehicles would be able to spot IEDs and fly over them.
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