SkyRunner founder Stewart Hamel weighs in on the military applications for flying car technology; the future of military engagement is here.
The age of the flying car in military operations has arrived. According to Stewart Hamel, founder of SkyRunner and expert in the technology of flying cars, there are several immediate military applications today for which the flying car can be utilized. Hamel, whose SkyRunner MK 3.2 is the product of six years of military, off-road and pilot input, said, “Infiltration and exfiltration (piloted by robots in high-hazard areas) and medical evacuation are a few of the military uses for flying cars. This technology also has similar advantages to existing aircraft such as helicopters and drones. The big idea is that it solves gaps in operational capability, preserves safety-of-mission, preserves safety-of-force, and represents billions of dollars in savings against operational overkill.”1
The idea of flying vehicles utilized in the military is not new. Over 60 years ago, the U.S. military paid Piasecki Aircraft Corporation to develop a “flying jeep.”2 Closer to present day, in 2010, a program was launched by the U.S. Pentagon’s Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) to design and build an army truck which, at the touch of a button, would become a helicopter. It would be able to fly above common hazards such as IEDs and landmines, much like Hamel’s SkyRunner, which is a much lighter and smaller vehicle than a truck and presents many of the same capabilities.3 “Such technology enhances adaptability, adds layers of redundancy and is modular to support unique (offensive/defensive) mission sets.” Hamel said.
In Russia a one-man “flying car” has been unveiled by defense manufacturer Kalashnikov.4 Popular Mechanics reports that the vehicle operates with 16 sets of rotors in a grid-like structure, is controlled using two joysticks, and is electrically powered. Its only downfall is that it currently cannot fly more than half an hour before exhausting its batteries; unlike SkyRunner, powered by 2 engines—one for flying, and one for ground use as an all-terrain vehicle—which can make a distance of 120 nautical miles.
Defense News previously reported a flying car innovated by French company Valyon. The vehicle, utilizing a paraglider propeller, can fly a distance of 600 miles at an airspeed of 50 mph, and is capable of reaching an altitude of 9,000 feet. It is also designed in such a way that it can move stealthily toward targets when airborne. This is another benefit shared with SkyRunner, which can drive a distance of 240 miles and fly a distance of 120 nautical miles at an airspeed of 40 mph, to a restricted height of 10,000 feet. SkyRunner also utilizes a canopy and propeller.
Interestingly, military leaders have been captivated by the possibilities of flying car technology since viewing SkyRunner at a Fort Lauderdale, Florida boat show several years go. At the show the military became as interested as the recreational public and the results were considerable input into SkyRunner’s development. Their contributions included a design philosophy to enhance adaptability, redundancy, versatility, modularity, simplicity and serviceability. We beefed up the vehicle’s integrity and switched from one engine to two.
“As we are seeing, flying car technology is quickly evolving from eccentric hype into practical, high-impact applications for government security and military theaters,” Stewart Hamel concluded. “Operational capability, safety-of-mission and safety-of-force is the baseline. The next question is, what does it all cost (in Lifecyle of procurement, post-procurement and hourly operations)? While SkyRunner isn’t poised as a perfect substitute for helicopters or drones, it’s operational versatility, simplicity, serviceability and modularity is game changing for short range missions. When measured against price, the next question is… how can an agency afford not to have this technology in inventory?”