As part of the next phase of the U.S. Air Force’s AFWERX High-Speed Vertical Take-Off and Landing (HSVTOL) Concept Challenge, Valkyrie Systems Aerospace (VSA) became one of eleven companies selected to receive market research investments aimed at advancing solutions that enable agility in austere environments. The challenge is part of a crowdsourcing effort currently underway between the Air Force, U.S. Special Operations Command (USSOCOM), and the Air Force’s AFWERX technology accelerator.
VSA has proposed its HoverJet Guardian model, which could meet or even exceed the requirements for speed, range, survivability, cargo capacity, and hovering. The Guardian would have the added bonus of being able to land on water. The platform combines the speed and agility of a jet with the hovering capabilities of a helicopter.
"We are proud to be selected and have the opportunity to collaborate with [the Air Force] and USSOCOM to create game-changing technology that will positively impact our military, creating a more mission-ready and resilient fighting force," said Glenn Dawson, Co-Founder and CEO of VSA.
"There are so many positives to working with AFWERX as well as United States Special Operations Command (USSOCOM)," added Dawson. "Whether it is collaborating to create products that can positively impact our service people by helping to create a more resilient and mission-ready military force or the opportunity for VSA to receive funding for concept development as well as the potential to create business partnerships with the Air Force or other U.S. Government agencies, we’re grateful for the opportunity to move forward in this competition."
VSA's HoverJet solution was initially envisioned as part of a broader HSVTOL conceptual framework intended to increase the ability of the Air Force and USSOCOM to carry out missions across a full spectrum of conflict and political scenarios. It has since emerged as a top-tier entrant in the HSVTOL Concept Challenge by meeting or exceeding rigorous evaluation criteria.
"The HSVTOL Concept Challenge has surfaced an impressive range and caliber of solutions to help us understand how to build a new class of air vehicles," explained Dr. Reid Melville, the Chief Innovation Officer of the Air Force Research Laboratory’s Transformational Capabilities Office. "We believe the organizations selected to receive market research investments at this stage have the potential to deliver truly groundbreaking innovation."
Valkyrie's Guardian prototype is a streamlined and stealthy aircraft that can lift and deliver a full 6,000 pounds of cargo at sea level. The Guardian boasts a top sprint speed of 450 miles per hour and a cruise speed of 340 miles per hour. It has an endurance of fifteen hours and can fly at altitudes of up to 40,000 feet above ground level.
As part of the next phase of the HSVTOL Concept Challenge, VSA will further develop its HoverJet solution. That will include working closely with the Air Force, USSOCOM, and Collaboration.Ai, the prime contractor facilitating the HSVTOL Concept Challenge.
The HSVTOL Concept Challenge, which was launched last June, invited experts from various fields to help conceptualize, design, and develop state-of-the-art HSVTOL technology. Submissions were accepted in two overarching categories. The “Integrated Solutions” category focused on system conceptualization, design, and architecture. The “Subsystem Solutions” category included advanced propulsion and novel technologies. Relevant capabilities and technologies for each focus area were outlined in the challenge statement. Critical mission profiles included infiltration and exfiltration of special operations forces, personnel recovery, aeromedical evacuation, and tactical mobility.
Peter Suciu is a Michigan-based writer who has contributed to more than four dozen magazines, newspapers and websites. He regularly writes about military small arms, and is the author of several books on military headgear including A Gallery of Military Headdress, which is available on Amazon.com.