On the Financial Post's National Security section, a look at the designs for "the army's tricked-out, super-fast, stealth copters of 2030." It's fascinating how the only thing left that resembles an helicopter is the cabin, while the rest looks like a hybrid between a plane and an autogyro.
For years, Army aviation leaders have been lamenting the fact that the service has not purchased a brand new helicopter design since the introduction of the AH-64 Apache in the 1980s. Besides the V-22 -- the aircraft that flies like an airplane but takes off and lands like a helicopter by pivoting its giant engines skyward -- almost all of the choppers used by the U.S. military today are based on designs from the 1950s, ?60s and ?70s. Service officials will tell you that this has led to a sort of stagnation in the state of military helicopter technology, especially when compared to the giant leaps ahead in technology the Air Force and Navy have seen with the advent of revolutionary stealth jets and drones.
To remedy this, the service has kicked off a long-term project called Joint Multirole (JMR) aimed at developing a radically new crop of choppers all based on a similar design that do everything from hunt bad guys to haul troops and cargo. The new choppers must be able to fly at least 265 miles per hour -- double the top speed of your average helicopter. They also have to be able to hover at altitudes of up to 6,000-feet in 95 degree temperature; a difficult feat for many helicopters. The choppers must also be quieter than today's helicopters. All four companies have nine months to flesh out their designs, after which, the Army will select two to be built and flying by 2018. The Army wants the new aircraft in service by 2030 or so.
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