Yet another flying car

July 21, 2010 Technology No Commenti

As we happened to write on this blog a couple of weeks ago, the US Department of Defense, through its DARPA department, is currently looking for tactical ground vehicles which, in case of danger, are equipped with the necessary technology to allow them to escape via vertical takeoff (and the relevant vertical landing) in order to find their way out of danger, with a cruise speed comparable with a light aircraft: in practice, something between an armored vehicle, an helicopter and a small plane.

In response to this search, one of the first manufacturers to respond to the search was AVX, with its TX concept, a flying car which, according to its planners, should be able to carry 4 passengers and a payload of approximately 500 kgs, turning from ground-based to aerial vehicle within only 60 seconds, with automatic vertical takeoff capabilities.

Furthermore, TX is capable of reaching a maximum flight speed of around 230 kilometers per hour, with an operating range of approximately 250 nautical miles, simple and intuitive flight controls, and satellite navigation systems to easily find the destination, both on the ground and in the ayr.

The only weak spot might be its speed on the ground, which exceeds 120 kilometers per hour on a normal road, but drops below 50 in offroad conditions and rough terrain, which might expose T&X to the threat of ambush, and 60 seconds might not be enough to successfully convert it from ground to aerial mode.

Among other features, TX is also able to perform medical evacuations to rescue wounded soldiers, turning one of the seats into a stretcher and carrying the pilot, the wounded passenger and a doctor for medical assistance.

A laser gun puts UAVs in danger

July 21, 2010 Technology No Commenti

There is not a single day when we do not read news about new UAVs (Unmanned Aerial Vehicles, the so-called “drones”) being launched on the market or in design phase, and most of the armies from the Western hemisphere are widely using this kind of devices for reconnaissance or attack missions, to spy behind enemy lines, launch quick attacks or carry heavy equipment without putting lives at risk.

Of course though, enemies can also get devices of this kind, therefore, along with new and ever powerful UAVs, it is necessary to develop an adequate technology that allows armies to defend themselves when it is the enemy that uses this kind of weapon.

For this reason, during the recent Airshow which takes places in Farnborough (UK), the US-based giant Raytheon has showcased its CIWS (Close-In Weapon System) laser gun, which can be used alone or supported by conventional guns, to counter the threat coming from above shooting a single laser beam, invisible to the human eye and around 50-kilowatt strong, which is capable to bring down drones, rockets, mortars and small boats, with extreme precision.

Of course, its efficiency should be put to a harder test, for example against armored jet fighters traveling at much higher speed than a drone, with a human pilot who adds more flexibility to their defense capabilities. In any case, CIWS is an important defense against reconnaissance missions carried out by unmanned aircraft, and can allow for a higher efficiency of behind-the-lines maneuvers, preventing enemies from spying each and every move; all this, naturally, while keeping personnel safe and minimizing the risk of losing lives.

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