For decades, Army aviation has been ruled by a belief that the service needed useful load and hover power, neither of which was to be sacrificed for rotorcraft speed. That still holds in some quarters. But it may be changing.
More and more, those interested in rotorcraft R&D say, Army leaders are expressing interest in means of flying faster with helicopters.
Long resistant to concepts like Piasecki Aircraft’s X-49A SpeedHawk (featured in our December 2007 cover story), Army officials are said to be looking at all options for boosting rotorcraft speed. That includes such options as mounting Piasecki’s vectored-thrust ducted propeller on a compound configuration Boeing AH-64D, and reviewing the gyroplane concepts of Groen Brothers and CarterCopter.
Salt Lake City-based Groen Brothers under a U.S. Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (Darpa) contract has been leading a team designing a proof-of-concept, long-range, vertical takeoff and landing (VTOL) aircraft capable of cruising at 350 kt.