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Transformer Concept Art from Textron Systems
Marine Corps are more interested in advances research might bring in unmanned helicopter design

DARPA funds numerous research projects and some of them sound like science fiction more than a product that could see reality. One of the more interesting projects that DARPA has talked about in the past year or so is the Transformer flying car. The idea behind the Transformer is that the soldiers could fly the vehicle over IEDs and rough terrain to make insertions into combat zones.

DARPA expects the flying Humvee to be piloted by troops with about the same amount of training that it takes to drive an armored vehicle. The basic premise of the vehicle is to take a Humvee that is lightened for flight and equip it with a rotor system to allow quick vertical takeoff and landings.
Defense News reports that in the weeks to come, DARPA will turn the Transformer idea over to several defense contractors for research.

The Transformer would have to be able to carry four combat ready soldiers and over 1,000 pounds of gear into battle. The car is expected to have a range of 250 miles when flying or driving on a single tank of fuel. One interesting aspect of the vehicle is that it would have automated flight capabilities as well. Using the automated flight capability, the flying Humvee could be sent to remote field locations with supplies offering the soldiers the gear and transportation they need for an objective.

The need to lighten the vehicle for flight would mean less armor. DARPA states that the vehicle would be able to stop most small arms fire and the reduction in armor would be offset by the ability to fly over IEDs and bombs.

Officials with the U.S. Marine core state that they are more interested in how the research into a flying Humvee might help unmanned helicopters they are developing more than they are interested in the flying car. James Lasswell, head of the Marine Corps Warfighting Lab, said, "The idea of having a flying car is interesting, but that is kind of a gee-whiz kind of thing."

DARPA first announced the Transformer program in January 2010.

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OMG seriously?
By Sazabi19 on 9/20/2010 10:27:08 AM , Rating: 5
the U.S. Marine core

Not to be a dick, but please change sooner rather than later, it is kind of offensive.

RE: OMG seriously?
By ApfDaMan on 9/20/2010 11:33:37 AM , Rating: 2
Im usually against bitching and moaning about spelling and grammar but that is just inexcusable.

RE: OMG seriously?
By phxfreddy on 9/20/10, Rating: 0
RE: OMG seriously?
By headbox on 9/20/2010 6:47:02 PM , Rating: 2
And when did "journalists" decide to refer to brand names and titles as plural instead of singular? The Marine Corps "are" looking.... NO! The Marine Corps IS looking!

RE: OMG seriously?
By Indianapolis on 9/23/2010 1:13:40 AM , Rating: 2
What are you, a hardcorps grammar Nazi?

RE: OMG seriously?
By just4U on 9/20/2010 12:52:28 PM , Rating: 2
I am not American .. and a bad speller so what was wrong with the way that was spelled? Just curious here.. not trying to be a prick.

RE: OMG seriously?
By Sazabi19 on 9/20/2010 1:06:52 PM , Rating: 2
Marine Corps, he did get it right near the beginning of the article and i know it was just a misstype, but its something he should fix.

RE: OMG seriously?
By foolsgambit11 on 9/20/2010 2:31:01 PM , Rating: 3
Obviously, that time he meant officials at the very center of the US Marine forces - the US Marine core.

RE: OMG seriously?
By rcc on 9/22/2010 4:48:00 PM , Rating: 2
or the training cadre?

RE: OMG seriously?
By Kurz on 9/20/2010 2:19:16 PM , Rating: 2
Marine "Corps" not Core

RE: OMG seriously?
By fezzik1620 on 9/20/2010 3:42:40 PM , Rating: 2
@just4U - The U.S. Marine Corps is a very proud group of soldiers and most Americans are very proud of the Corps. The author being cavalier about the spelling is an offense because it can reflect a cavalier, disrespectful attitude to all the Corpsmen who have fought and died to protect our country.

I have never served in the military, but I have a great deal of respect for all those who have. Thank you, to all our servicemen and women.

RE: OMG seriously?
By Spookster on 9/20/2010 8:31:08 PM , Rating: 2
As a Marine I can say yes we are very proud of our long and eventful history of the Corps. Since it seems apparent the writer did just mistype it I would not hold a grudge but would like to see it corrected.

Semper Fi!

RE: OMG seriously?
By Ammohunt on 9/20/2010 2:12:09 PM , Rating: 2
call a Corpseman!

RE: OMG seriously?
By Reclaimer77 on 9/20/2010 3:19:14 PM , Rating: 2
You think that's offensive? Our own President doesn't even know how to pronounce it!

RE: OMG seriously?
By Sazabi19 on 9/20/10, Rating: -1
RE: OMG seriously?
By Reclaimer77 on 9/20/10, Rating: -1
RE: OMG seriously?
By jmanbro on 9/20/2010 7:38:43 PM , Rating: 2
Well lets see, the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, police departments, fire depts, public schools,librarys,roadways,trains, etc.. are all examples of "socialist" programs I think we might need.

RE: OMG seriously?
By Reclaimer77 on 9/21/2010 12:20:49 AM , Rating: 2
If you think those are examples of "socialism", it's time you looked up the word. You are embarrassing yourself honestly. Socialism isn't simply government spending or government programs.

RE: OMG seriously?
By jmanbro on 9/22/2010 8:13:44 AM , Rating: 2
I should have stated it differently. If you call our President a socialist for what his administration has done to attempt to help our people and economy, then what I meant to say is that these programs I listed would fall under the term of socialism. I know what the term means, I just don't throw it around and accuse people of being something they are not.

RE: OMG seriously?
By chrnochime on 9/21/2010 12:23:55 AM , Rating: 2
What Reclaimer77 said....

RE: OMG seriously?
By YashBudini on 9/22/2010 9:53:37 AM , Rating: 2
You think that's offensive? Our own President doesn't even know how to pronounce it!

After 8 years of having "nuclear" butchered.

RE: OMG seriously?
By klzmnc1 on 9/21/2010 4:28:07 PM , Rating: 2
yea and way Obama pronounced was even worse corpsemen lol

By Rakanishu on 9/20/2010 10:37:16 AM , Rating: 2
I usually vouch for function over form but gawd thing looks stupid. There is no way they could make these things well armored and still able to lift off.

By Redwin on 9/20/2010 10:45:18 AM , Rating: 2
It took them 5 years in Iraq to even get metal doors on the humvees that DON'T fly... and we expect armor on the probably-already-too-heavy-to-work flying version? I lol.

By Samus on 9/20/2010 2:35:01 PM , Rating: 2
This is the dumbest idea since McNamara's amphibious tank.

By EJ257 on 9/20/2010 11:03:54 AM , Rating: 1
They did this to avoid the road side bombs. What about the RPGs? While we're at it, who is going to be flying these things? Your average line grunt is far from a pilot.

By Fritzr on 9/20/2010 12:32:33 PM , Rating: 3
In the article it says that it will have an autopilot system with minimal training needed. Sounds like the driver will direct it and the autopilot will deal with minor details like not hitting ground at 20mph descent speed or tipping the vehicle over while airborne. This feature if it works is what will allow the civilian flying car to finally reach the market. Just add collision avoidance and a GPS that allows the autopilot to refuse to enter restricted airspace.

What has me wondering is how they are going to just hop over the IEDs. They still haven't fielded a reliable way of spotting them aside from driving by with lures while looking for the bang.

By Spookster on 9/20/2010 8:34:31 PM , Rating: 2
Not only that but not all IEDs are motion or pressure activated. Sometimes they have people sitting in LOS of the IED waiting to activate it remotely.

By bug77 on 9/20/2010 11:48:02 AM , Rating: 2
It won't need armor. It will dodge.

By RivuxGamma on 9/21/2010 4:42:07 PM , Rating: 2
yeah, but it has to get an 18 or higher on its tumble check.

By Dribble on 9/20/2010 12:24:47 PM , Rating: 3
You know they'd be named flying ducks in honour of the fact that every enemy combatant in a 1 mile radius will be taking pot shots the moment they lift off.
They neither have the armour to take the hits, the speed to avoid getting hit, or the weapons to shoot back.

By RGrizzzz on 9/20/2010 11:18:34 AM , Rating: 5
You'd have to know where an IED is, before you could fly over it...

RE: Um...
By Fritzr on 9/20/2010 12:34:44 PM , Rating: 2
Glad to see someone else noted that minor detail :P

RE: Um...
By EJ257 on 9/20/2010 1:13:20 PM , Rating: 2
Yes and if you know where it is you could drive around it, call in EOD and take care of it, basically not need this thing. I'm sorry but I don't see this thing taking off (pardon the pun) like the designers had hope.

RE: Um...
By Mojo the Monkey on 9/20/2010 2:39:07 PM , Rating: 4
DARPA: "LOL, April fools."

One step...
By CarbonJoe on 9/20/2010 2:10:12 PM , Rating: 2
One step closer to Skynet.

RE: One step...
By Mojo the Monkey on 9/20/2010 3:03:56 PM , Rating: 2
Yes, we will need a GIANT sky net to catch all the jarheads who wont be able to land during training.


GoGo Gadget Wings
By Performance Fanboi on 9/20/2010 8:14:13 PM , Rating: 2
Seriously - I think it's time to evaluate DARPA's alcohol/drug use policy. Sorry I missed the meeting where they came up with this though - musta been a blast!

RE: GoGo Gadget Wings
By tng on 9/21/2010 4:03:04 PM , Rating: 2
OK, just so you know, DARPA does give out grants to companies and private/public research firms that come up with crazy stuff. They don't really do any of the research themselves just fund people who do.

Sometimes they will give money to projects that have no possible use at the moment, but may have uses in the future.

There was a book in the last year or two called The Department of Mad Scientists that covered how the agency worked and what some of the successes and failures have been.

They also (personally speaking) funded a project by a US company that developed a specific type of nozzle for use in the flat panel TV industry years ago. This technology is now used on most of the equipment that produces LCDs and PDP panels.

I like James Bond and all...
By MrBlastman on 9/20/2010 11:04:47 AM , Rating: 3
But this is just ridiculous. A flying car... into battle? So lets see here, they get four soldiers to saddle up in this thing, that has big wings, a rotor blade on the top and a pusher motor in the rear, they push a button, it takes off, flys them over enemy lines while all four of them are hanging out the sides like Dolph Lundgren's Punisher meets Stallone's Rambo meets the door gunner in Full Metal Jacket (that guy kicked butt... Get some!) spraying hot lead down on the insurgents.

Yeeaaah, that's going to work real well. See, the thing is, that car has to land sometime, and when it does, I'm sure there will be some happy people ready to greet them really politely, gee (RPG ;) ). Not only that, but this thing will probably,

a. Not be able to climb quickly
b. Not be able to get much altitude
c. Be really, really slow--think helecopter slow, and then slower (due to the aerodynamics being deplorable).
d. Cost a whole lot of money

I just... don't see this happening, at least, efficiently. Who on earth advertises their entry over enemy lines with a crack team? Unless we're sending in the Delta Force (and we don't have anyone that can roundhouse kick like Chuck Norris in our service), I fear that our men and women in these things will die horrible, gruesome deaths.

Paratroopers, they're great for many reasons and are cost effective too.

what a boondoggle.
By chromal on 9/20/2010 1:27:54 PM , Rating: 2
I'll believe this when I see it deployed, but from where I set, this seems like defense contractor welfare at best-- does anyone involved seriously believe this expenditure of tax dollars will result in a field-deployable technology that makes any practical sense? Humvee chassis and helicopter chassis start with almost diametrically opposed design goals with respect to weight.

What the hell is wrong...
By MasterBlaster7 on 9/21/2010 3:03:54 AM , Rating: 2
with a mh-6 little bird helicopter for stuff like this? It is small and light. It can carry 4 troops. And, it can probably get into a lot tighter roadways than a POS flying humvee.

Return of the Rotabuggy
By SimBoB on 9/21/2010 9:20:41 AM , Rating: 2
Crazy or not, a glide-drop version of this idea flew nearly 70yrs ago... somebody tell DARPA...

By chunkymonster on 9/21/2010 9:43:11 AM , Rating: 2
The Moller flying car is technology that DARPA and the Marines need to look at.

I think this is a very cool idea and is worth the research.

Given the number of civilian and commercial products that were born of military research and application this could be one step closer to a consumer level flying car, like the Moller!

By kd9280 on 9/21/2010 1:06:54 PM , Rating: 2
Seriously, I want to get a job at DARPA. Where the heck else can you work where "hey guys, let's make a flying Humvee" is not regarded as insanity?

Big waste of Time and Money
By Scott221 on 9/22/2010 3:08:51 PM , Rating: 2
This is a huge waste of tax-payer money. It's pointless to try to merge these two vehicles. The result will lack performance & capability in both ground and air combat.

Recall the Bradley Fighting Vehicle -- here's a quote from that sums up that fiasco: "The M2 Bradley Infantry Fighting vehicle is a three million dollar version of the World War II Sherman tank, with room in the back for six guys. It weighs 30 tons, so its too heavy to be picked up by any helicopter and too large to be carried by a C-130, and is not truly amphibious. It's expensive to operate, expensive to maintain, and only carries six infantrymen. Worst of all, its a huge vehicle with little armor and packed with explosive TOW missiles."

Hopefully this program will be shut down before millions are invested trying to make it work.

Another typo!!
By DeepBlue1975 on 9/20/2010 3:12:23 PM , Rating: 1
It's DARMA, not DARPA.


Because this thing screams "We LOST it"

Helicopter role
By Jeffk464 on 9/21/2010 12:42:41 AM , Rating: 1
Isn't this kind of what the army invisioned for the role of the helicopter. You could fly in "mounted cavalry" quickly to wherever you want, think Vietnam. Kind of makes you wonder why we haven't been using this tactic more. Russia quickly learned to avoid using the roads in Afghanistan, any vehicle on the road was a sitting duck. They used helicopters to deliver special troops to specific targets. This strategy was working great until we supplied Osama Bin Laden Stinger missiles to knock out the helicopters. What comes around goes around, isn't pay back a bitch. Now Pakistan is working with the Taliban to clandestinely fight us, just as we did with the CIA working with Osama.

"It looks like the iPhone 4 might be their Vista, and I'm okay with that." -- Microsoft COO Kevin Turner
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