DARPA has now awarded the second of two Transformer "flying Humvee" study contracts to Lockheed Martin. We just want to know when we'll get to see both concepts fight in a desert death match. Let's get ready to rotor!

The first contract to design the TX "fly-drive" tactical vehicle was awarded to AAI, for a concept equipped with folding rotor and wing (shown below). AAI's TX design uses Carter Aviation Technologies' slowed-rotor/compound concept, which is essentially an autogyro that can slow its rotor in flight to fly like a fixed-wing aircraft. To convert from vehicle to aircraft, the wing is unfolded, the rotor mast raised and the blades unfolded. The turboshaft engine spins up the unpowered, high-inertia rotor for a vertical "jump" takeoff, then drives a ducted fan for forward thrust and flight control.

Lockheed's, as you can see atop the page, is a ducted-fan design with the ducted fans rotating from providing lift in vertical flight to thrust in forward flight. Lockheed is teamed with Piasecki Aircraft, developer of the late-1950s ducted-rotor AirGeep, and vehicle designer Ricardo. We spoke with Ricardo PR earlier today and they can't say much else other than that.


We can't wait until these go beyond pen and paper designs. We mean, we're going to need to do something to sate our inner child's new-found hunger for flying Humvees.