There is no doubt that in the past several years there really has not been any support from the military in researching the military potential of the economic usefulness of the gyroplane in military aviation support roles.
Today and in the very near future there seems to be many new technologies and older technologies that when merged are being seriously looked at for potential military applications of gyroplanes in combat or combat support roles. Some of these mission roles include Search And Rescue (SAR), Unmanned Arial Vehicle (UAV) and close air support roles such as the “Buzzard” concept.
The gyroplane has been looked at for certain applications in military roles in the past, mainly in an observation role but also for special operations use such as the Hafner Rotachute for deploying operatives stealthily behind enemy lines. The CarterCopter Demonstrator has proven that cost effective high-speed rotary wing flight is achievable and opens the door for much more research and potential applications of the gyroplane in military roles.
Video contributed by Malcolm Auld.
Groen Brothers and Carter are the most commonly known modern designers with ideas for future designs with military applications and there are some other Light Sport Aircraft (LSA) companies that are seriously perusing the potential of the gyroplane in a military role such as the Tactical Organic Airborne Demonstrator (TOAD). Piaseki and Sikorsky are both working on gyrodyne designs that will definitely push the envelope of current technology. The benefits of offloading the rotor and the potential application of this technology can open new tactical operations that before this period really were not available.
Video Provided by T. Chick.
This technology is what I believe is what Juan de la Cierva had in mind when he believed that the Autogiro held more promise and potential than helicopters and is where he was trying to take his company to. The movable mast as in the Carter PAV is not new technology but the control of that mast is. This is but one example of the new technology opening the doors to a far more cost-effective means of rotary-wing flight.
Thanks to “gyroplane” for the use of the video.
What about training? Training will definitely be required for gyroplane or gyrodyne flight and it is different than that of either airplane or helicopter flight but the good news is that gyroplanes do not require as much flight training as helicopters and are more economical to operate for the same flight hours. If we have to train pilots in the future as we had to train pilots for World War II or due to current terrorist type operations flight crew training can occur at a much reduced expense and training period.
We should learn from our current situation that technology comes with a cost and many of our current systems are so expensive that even for a large nation the costs to produce effective numbers of arms for offensive or defensive use can drain the nations coffers to effectively employ the technology. The gyroplane provides a means for a cost effective aeronautical platform for many missions that we currently employ much more expensive vehicles to perform. When a helicopter is on patrol it is not utilizing any of its hover capabilities and this may account for up to 80 percent or more of the aircraft’s total flight time. Helicopters certainly have their role but it appears that the more we progress forward we some times have to go back to our roots.
China currently is testing and employing gyroplanes within its military forces and if this technology is improved upon they can quickly develop an aircraft that can leave other nations behind. The ability to train masses of pilots quickly and in a cheaper version than other forms or vertical/rotary-wing flight can provide a logistical edge and translate into a tactical edge over countries with more sophisticated technology. The gyroplane can almost be considered in the same category as a “dirty-bomb” in relation to the expense vs. impact on the combat area of operation. Think this sounds a bit off the wall? Well, I am not alone in these thoughts and I have provided an extensive list of references to this very subject below.
What kind of impact will this have on the helicopter industry? Well it very well may have a big impact on some companies that have invested huge sums of money into newer technologies but at a very expensive cost to the end-user as well, such as the V-22 Osprey. Meanwhile, other companies such as Piaseki and Sikorsky are already investing their own dollars into researching the potential of gyroplane, gyrodyne, hybrid, designs and may find themselves as even bigger players in the rotary-wing industry.
Video provided by Aerotv.
The concept of the Hafner Flying Jeep is still alive- DARPA has recently provided initial funding for development of a flying Hummvee.Check out the following link