With its Guardian and Eagle “HoverJets”, Valkyrie Systems Aerospace hopes to develop a whole new class of utility aircraft.
The US military has always had a certain degree of fascination with one-of-a-kind flying machines. And this tradition seems set to last. New Atlas explains that the institution has invested in the American firm Valkyrie Systems, which is developing an incredible aircraft called HoverJet Guardian.
It all started with the AFWERX High Speed Vertical Takeoff and Landing Concept Challenge, a competition to develop a new generation of VTOL, these machines capable of taking off vertically like helicopters. And on this occasion, the concept of Valkyrie made short work of the other candidates. Nothing to do with the machines of Airspeeder or Joby, for example; we are clearly shifting into high gear with a contraption that seems straight out of the Halo series.
Impressive performance for a VTOL
Visually, the device already looks stunning with its jet black shell and futuristic curves; unsurprisingly, it is a stealth device, the shape of which should make it more difficult to detect by enemy instruments. On the renderings presented by the firm, we discover a superb aircraft measuring 7.3m long and 9.1m wide, for an empty weight of approximately 3600 kg. But it’s not just her look that appeals; its technical characteristics are equally impressive.
It starts with the four propellers encased in the wings that allow the craft to rise gracefully into the air directly upright. Once in the air, he leaves his electric motors aside: he can now use his two Pratt & Whitney 545c motors, capable of developing 3700 kg thrust. So they can catapult him at lightning speed; the Guardian can cruise at around 550 km/h, and even exceed 1100 km/h at full throttle. That’s obviously a far cry from a specialist fighter, but it’s still pretty close to the speed of sound in air.
A watch of versatility
In addition, it is able to maintain these performances over an extended period of time. Valkyrie explains that her machine will be able to withstand up to 15 hours of flight at an altitude of more than 12 kilometers. It will even be fully amphibious ! The icing on the cake: the Guardian will be able to embark a pilot… or navigate fully autonomously like a drone.
Valkyrie also unveiled the Guardian’s future little brother, dubbed Eagle. It is essentially the same aircraft, but smaller, slower and more maneuverable, since it has steerable engines – we then speak of thrust vectoring, a technology found mainly on combat aircraft and rockets. “What makes the Eagle unique is its proprietary vector control system that allows it to navigate any terrain and conditions.”, says Valkyrie.
Neither the US Army nor Valkyrie revealed what precise role this machine would play in the American fleet. But it seems obvious that all the armies in the world would be very excited to have such a versatile vehicle… and aeronautics enthusiasts are surely just as eager to see it fly. Unfortunately, we have no information on the chronology of this collaboration, and we will therefore have to take our troubles patiently.