The VTOL X-Plane programme is geared at demonstrating efficient hover and high-speed flight. The specific requirements are that the aircraft achieve a top sustained flight speed of 300 kt to 400 kt; raise aircraft hover efficiency from 60% to at least 75%; present a more favourable cruise lift-to-drag ratio of at least 10, up from the current 5-6; and carry a useful load of at least 40% of the vehicle’s projected gross weight of 10,000-12,000 lb (4,500-5,450 kg).
Of the four contenders, Boeing’s Phantom Swift is currently the only one to have been built (as a 17% scale model) and flown. Boeing plans to achieve DARPAs goals through the use of ducted-fan technology.
In its full-sized configuration the Phantom Swift will measure 15.2 m (50 ft) from wingtip to wingtip, 13.4 m (44 ft) from nose to tail, and weighs in at to 5,450 kg (12,000 lb). With two downward facing fans in the main body of the aircraft for vertical lift, payloads would be housed in bays in the nose, mid-section, and tail of the Phantom Swift.
While the demonstrator will be powered by a conventional General Electric CT7-8 engine, the long-term plan is to incorporate an all-electric drive as soon as the technology makes it feasible. In high-speed cruise the lift fans are shut down and doors are closed for greater aerodynamic performance (forward propulsion is provided by the wingtip thrusters).
Boeing Phantom Swift
There is potential for the full-scale Phantom Swift to be manned, and that Boeing sees a whole family (manned and unmanned) of platforms based on the aircraft.
Terminator movie Hunter Killer
With Phase 1 contracts for the USD130 million VTOL X-Plane programme awarded to the four competitors, Phase 2 and Phase 3 will see the entrants downselected to one platform with the goal of flight trials in the 2017-18 timeframe.
Video of the Phantom Swift
Terminator Hunter Killer Scence
More VTOL in Fiction
Marvel Shield bus VTOL vidoe
There have been vertical takeoff landing (VTOL) planes in fiction.
Avengers Quinjet is VTOL but no mention of it being an electric plane. It is supersonic
The “Bus” is a VTOL plane used in the TV show Marvel Agents of Shield. But it appears to be a subsonic C17 with VTOL. Again no mention that it is electric powered.
Brian Wang is a Futurist Thought Leader and a popular Science blogger with 1 million readers per month. His blog Nextbigfuture.com is ranked #1 Science News Blog. It covers many disruptive technology and trends including Space, Robotics, Artificial Intelligence, Medicine, Anti-aging Biotechnology, and Nanotechnology.
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