The Air Force Wants Its Own Flying 'Jeep.' Here's What That Could Look Like.
6 min read
Recently, the service gave the green light to 35 new High-Speed Vertical Takeoff aircraft designs. Here are our favorite frontrunners.
The U.S. Air Force has chosen 35 new aircraft designs for its High-Speed Vertical Takeoff and Landing (HSVTOL) competition.

Designs range from single-person models to transport helicopter-sized craft.

Small, fast aircraft like these can operate without landing strips, retrieve pilots in enemy territory, ferry maintainers to small airfields, and transport munitions. Basically, they're flying Jeeps.

The U.S. Air Force is preparing to unveil 35 new aircraft designs that could revolutionize personal flight. Over the last few months, the service received 218 submissions for a new High-Speed Vertical Takeoff and Landing (HSVTOL) aircraft, and may place one or more winners into production. The goal is to create a new class of small, Jeep-like aircraft not tied to airfield runways that can support operations in austere—think really, really basic—environments.

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HSVTOL is meant to develop a new generation of aircraft designed to take advantage of new technologies, particularly electricity-powered airplanes. The planes are meant to carry between one to 12 people, and typically use rotating propellers, ducted fans, and other technology to take off like a helicopter and fly like an airplane.

Typically, this involves rotating the engine nacelles 90 degrees while the aircraft is in midair, from a downward-thrust position to a forward-thrust position. This technology, pioneered in service by the V-22 Osprey tiltrotor, has an advantage in that the aircraft only needs one set of engines for vertical and horizontal flight.

AFWERX, a program of the Air Force meant to create a startup-like culture within the service, initially announced the HSVTOL Concept Challenge in 2017. In May, the program put out a call for submissions, which remained open for a little over one month. In August, the program held a showcase to debut some of the most promising solutions, as New Atlas first reported.

"You might…
Kyle Mizokami
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