Time to Upgrade
The U.S. Army is currently developing replacements for its famous Black Hawk helicopter, which has been a mainstay of the military since it was developed in the 1970s.
Decades later, the Black Hawk is too slow and has too short a range to be practical. One of the frontrunners to replace it borrows the best from planes and helicopters — with two rotating wings, each of which houses a propeller allowing for vertical take off, according to Ars Technica.
A or B
The helicopter, called the V-280 Valor and built by a division of aviation manufacturer Textron has the functionality of a sort of plane-helicopter hybrid that could travel faster and farther than the Black Hawk. It also improves on past tiltrotor designs by leaving the rest of the engine in place, cutting down on cost and the mess kicked up by the rotating blades, Ars reports.
But that’s not the only design the military is considering — another prototype, Sikorsky-Boeing’s SB-1 Defiant looks more like a typical helicopter but uses two counterrotating propellers stacked on top of each other to increase its speed.
In particular, the Army needs a helicopter well-suited for recon missions overseas, hence these two prototypes’ focus on top speed.
There’s no indication yet which of the two will get picked up by the armed forces, but we look forward to the new movies like “Tiltrotor Down” that could follow.
READ MORE: Forget Airwolf: One of these is the Army’s next assault “helicopter” [Ars Technica]
More on helicopters: You Can Fly DARPA’s Idiot-Proof Helicopter With 45 Mins of Training