DARPA (Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency) is the Pentagon’s research division. It has issued a request for information to the industry looking for technologies that could support the development of new Agency efforts on seaplane and Wing in-Ground capable vehicles.
A wing-in-ground-effect (WIG) also called ekranoplan (Russian – “screenglider”), is a vehicle that is able to move over the surface by gaining support from the reactions of the air against the surface of the earth or water.
The DARPA’s Tactical Technology Office, (TTO), has revealed that the U.S. military wants something faster than ships and that can carry more payload than Vertical Takeoff Landing (VTOL), and other maritime aircraft.
DARPA has issued an Aug. 18 information request. It is looking for ideas for new WIG vehicle designs that can achieve greater aerodynamic efficiency and address many operational limitations of traditional maritime airlift and sea platforms.
According to the RFI, “DARPA is interested” in designing a new type of vehicle that addresses major operational limitations of traditional sea and air lift platforms.
DARPA highlighted the following features of the new concept: large operational payload (100+ tonnes), ability to carry multiple amphibious vehicles, increased out of ground effect capability for obstacle avoidance, maximum flight time in ground effects for increased range, high sea state operation for inground effect flight, takeoff and landing, and extended on-water operations.
DARPA also seeks to discover new concepts and configurations to meet these goals. Here are some examples of possible mission areas:
- Expeditionary Advanced Base Operations (EABO);
- Distributed Maritime Operations (DMO);
- Distributed logistics and logistics under threat operations;
- Combat Search and Rescue (CSAR), on-site triage, mass casualty rescue;
- Amphibious operations;
- Unmanned vehicle operations;
- Low payload, long duration arctic patrol flights.
This RFI encourages participants to provide ideas addressing all of the identified challenges and any others related to this new concept.