The Pentagon’s research division, which is called DARPA (Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency), has released its request for information to industry seeking technologies that would support the development of new Agency’s efforts focused on novel 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.
New details from the DARPA’s Tactical Technology Office (TTO) confirmed that the U.S. military is wants something that is far faster than ships and with a higher payload than Vertical Takeoff and Landing (VTOL) and other maritime aircraft.
According to an Aug. 18 request for information, the DARPA is seeking ideas for new WIG vehicles that will be capable achieve increased aerodynamic efficiencies and address many of the operational limitations of traditional sea and airlift platforms in maritime theaters.
“DARPA is interested in the design of a new class of vehicle that addresses the major operational limitations of traditional air and sea lift platforms,” according to the RFI.
DARPA noted that specific features of this new concept are large operational payload (100+ tons) and capability of carrying multiple amphibious vehicles, extended out of ground effect flight capability for obstacle avoidance, maximize flight time in ground effect for increased range and high sea state operation for in-ground effect flight as well as takeoff and landing and extended on-water operations.
Also added is that DARPA seeks to identify additional novel concepts and configurations that meet these objectives. Examples of potential mission areas include:
- 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.