U.S. Army Building Flying Humvee… The VTOL ‘Black Knight’
I had to research this. A 4×4, a Blackhawk helicopter and an Octocopter! Puzzled? Don’t be, we shall be talking about a cross between these three things that is being prepared by Advanced Tactics of El Segundo, California. The ideas is to come up with a VTOL aircraft that allows for autonomous operations in order to provide support to special forces, transfer supplies, pick up casualties or injured soldiers from battlefield.
In combat, the ‘Golden Hour’ is the time period after an injury during which, the treatment results in survival – mostly. That means we should try our best to transport the injured soldiers from battlefield to a point where they can receive treatment during this Golden Hour. However, the issue is, how do we do that? Helicopters are a good choice but we can’t land them unless we have a clear opening and that is not necessarily available at the battlefield. This is where today’s VTOL aircraft comes in.
Known as AT Black Knight Transformer, the vehicle is known as the world’s first Road-able VTOL (Vertical Takeoff and Landing) aircraft which can land much more closely to where it is needed and can make the rest of the journey on road. You may consider it as an aerial ambulance which can be driven as well. The capacity of this AT Black Knight is more or less like that of a Blackhawk helicopter.
Once it becomes fully operational, it will have turbo diesel engines that will be capable of transporting up to 453 Kilograms to a distance of 463 km at 241 Km/hr in air. While on the road, it will be able to manage 726 Kilograms and maintain a speed of over 110Km/hr. These stats are however theoretical at the moment. As of now, Advanced Tactics have told us that a demonstration was carried out last month. They plan on executing first flights during the first quarter of this year.
Apart from the Black Knight, Advanced Tactics is working on something else too; AT Panther Transformer. This model is somewhat smaller and more compact when compared to Black Knight and has been designed for Special Forces application. It has been designed so that it can fit into the payload bay of a CV-22 Osprey.