The U.S. Air Force funded Valkyrie to develop the eVTOL, a high-speed, amphibious jet-powered vehicle

2022-09-23 0 By

Valkyrie Systems Aerospace, based in Reno, received a research grant from the U.S. Air Force to further develop its HoverJet Guardian concept, which combines electric VTOL and high-speed jet cruise with amphibious and hovercraft capabilities.The U.S. Air Force’s AFWERX High Speed Vertical Take-off and Landing (HSVTOL) concept challenge has the military opening the door to a range of private companies seeking ideas for eventual next-generation VTOL aircraft that can be much faster than current VTOL machines such as the V-22 OSPrey.Valkyrie’s HoverJet Guardian concept fits this bill. In essence, it appears to be a powerful, opt-in jet with an electric VTOL system built into it.The VTOL system appears to have a quadrotor layout, with four propellers (or possibly eight coaxially mounted) hidden in holes in its bulky wings.Those propellers lifted it vertically off the ground, but then a pair of Pratt & Whitney 545C turbofans took over, adding 8,200 pounds of horizontal thrust.The result, Valkyrie claims, is a cruising speed of 340 MPH (547 km/h), a transsonic top sprint speed of 700 MPH (1,127 km/h), and endurance of up to 15 hours at altitudes of up to 40,000 feet (12,192 m).The drone isn’t exactly compact; it measures 24 x 30 x 6 feet (7.3 x 9.1 x 1.8 meters) and weighs 4,200 pounds (1,905 kilograms) empty.With fuel, pilot, and/or up to 2,000 pounds (907 kg) of cargo, the tiny VTOL system has a maximum takeoff weight of 12,000 pounds (5443 kg).This is much heavier than the previous Joby S4, which is said to weigh around 8,820 LBS (4,000 kg), and it uses fewer and smaller propellers.Therefore, these propellers will not work hard under high load.On the other hand, since HSVTOL will run mainly on jet fuel, energy storage will not be an issue at all, and the power system can be tuned to be high power rather than high efficiency.One of the biggest features of the HoverJet Guardian is its ability to land on water and offer “three modes of operation: aircraft, hovercraft and amphibious”.Exactly how the hovercraft model will work has not been revealed, but a VTOL capable of taking off and landing on almost any surface, and breaking the sound barrier once airborne, would clearly be a very useful platform.Valkyrie says its patented thrust vector control system enables it to operate in almost any terrain and/or adverse conditions.The company did not disclose how much HoverJet Guardian was contributing to its “market research investment” and did not publicly display any prototypes.It is therefore unclear how far these aircraft are beyond the concept stage, even though Valkyrie claims they are “the product of more than 25 years of engineering, testing and refinement, including seven generations of technological advances”.The funding will allow Valkyrie to continue developing the concept over the next six months, working with the U.S. Air Force, USSOCOM and Collaboration.ai, the contractor coordinating the HSVTOL concept challenge.