US developing `flying` armoured vehicle

Pentagon is developing a futuristic machine similar to a Humvee used for patrolling on the ground.

Last Updated: Dec 02, 2010, 19:36 PM IST

London: The Pentagon is developing a futuristic machine similar to a Humvee used for patrolling on the ground but which could turn into a helicopter at the touch of a button.

It could of great help in Afghanistan, where troops could use it to manoeuvre past lethal roadside bombs, improve re-supply operations to remote patrol bases and insert Special Forces into Taliban strongholds, reports the Daily Mail.

The vehicle would also enable soldiers to escape quickly by air if they were caught in a Taliban ambush.

The Pentagon`s Defence Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) has launched a 41 million pounds programme to develop the flying armoured vehicle that can carry four servicemen.

The vehicle - which uses composite armour to protect crew from gunfire, IED blasts and missiles - would be able to travel 280 miles by land or in the air. It could take-off and land vertically - like the Royal Navy`s Harrier jump jets - to increase access to rugged terrain.
Fitted with automatic flight controls, it could be flown by even by soldiers not trained to be pilots, thus increasing its flexibility. And it would be fitted with machine-guns and cannons.

The 20 ft car could reach speeds of around 65 mph on the ground and more than 150 mph while flying.

A prototype of the vehicle, dubbed the `Transformer`, or TX, could be ready by 2015 when British and US would still be present in Afghanistan.

A DARPA spokesman said: "`We are seeking to combine the advantages of ground vehicles and helicopters into a single vehicle equipped with flexibility of movement."

The vehicle is expected to cost about 132,000 pounds - similar to that of a Ferrari.

IANS