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This plane makes vertical take-offs! Straight up!

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For the past 60 years,
helicopters have provided essential vertical takeoff and landing (VTOL)
capabilities–omnidirectional maneuverability, hovering, landing on almost any
flat surface–for countless military operations.design.

DARPA’s
VTOL experimental plane, or VTOL X-Plane, program seeks to overcome these
challenges through innovative cross-pollination between the fixed-wing and
rotary-wing worlds, with the goal of fostering radical improvements in VTOL
flight.
It takes off vertically, relying on two-dozen fans to soar over the
countryside and change directions quickly. It uses generators to boost
power, creating what is said to be an unusually efficient design. And it
can fly up to 460 mph, faster than the MV-22 Osprey, another rotary
aircraft that the U.S. military now touts for being faster than
conventional helicopters.
It’s called LightningStrike, and the
Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency just unveiled video of how it
could someday work in combat. The agency selected the unmanned
aircraft’s design for the second phase of its unmanned Vertical Takeoff
and Landing Experimental X-Plane (VTOL X-Plane) program.DARPA and the contractors want to begin testing the flight demonstrator aircraft in 2018, they said. Rather than tweaking past designs and technologies, VTOL X-Plane
challenges industry and innovative engineers to create a single hybrid
aircraft that would concurrently push the envelope in four areas:

  • Speed: Achieve a top sustained flight speed of 300 kt-400 kt
  • Hover efficiency: Raise hover efficiency from 60 percent to at least 75
    percent
  • Cruise efficiency: Present a more favorable cruise
    lift-to-drag ratio of at least 10, up from 5-6
  • Useful load capacity:
    Maintain the ability to perform useful work by carrying a useful load of at
    least 40 percent of the vehicle’s projected gross weight of 10,000-12,000
    pounds.   The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) has helped develop a lot of wondrous technology over the years, including most notably the Internet.“This is an extremely novel approach,” said DARPA program manager Ashish
    Bagai. “It will be very challenging to demonstrate, but it has the
    potential to move the technology needle the farthest and provide some of
    the greatest spinoff opportunities for other vertical flight and
    aviation products.”
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VTOL X-Plane hypothetical concepts

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