The US will develop giant transport aircraft

The US will develop giant transport aircraft

The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) issued a press release in which announced the selection of contractors to develop huge aircraft for the US Air Force. The aircraft must be made in the ekranoplan design and ensure the transfer of a large number of equipment and personnel to the combat zone.

Aurora Flight Sciences and General Atomics will have to submit projects within a year, and by the end of 2024, create demonstrators such aircraft. The Pentagon announced the Liberty Lifter program for the development of huge ekranoplanes in May last year.

The US will develop giant transport aircraftThe US will develop giant transport aircraftphoto:

“The Liberty Lifter program aims to demonstrate a breakthrough in operational capability by designing, building, operating and flying a low-cost, long-range X-Plane aircraft capable of strategic and tactical heavy-duty missions. The planned Liberty Lifter demonstrator will be a large flying boat similar in size and capacity to the C-17 Globemaster III transport aircraft,” DARPA said in a press release.

The original developer, General Atomics, chose a twin-hull design with a mid-range wing arrangement to optimize water stability and seaworthiness. It uses distributed thrust using twelve turboprop engines… Please note — TWELVE engines! The cost of a flight hour for such an aircraft will be enormous.

“We are excited to begin this program and look forward to working closely with the U.S. Department of Defense. Our vehicle will combine fast and flexible strategic lifting of very large, heavy loads with the ability to take off/land on water,” The Drive quotes a General Atomics representative as saying.

The US will develop giant transport aircraftThe US will develop giant transport aircraftphoto:

A competing team from Aurora Flight Sciences presented a more traditional ekranoplan concept, designed as a «flying boat» with a single hull, a high wing and eight turboprop engines for the main engine.

“It will use a reliable and adaptive control system developed by to solve problems associated with flight at and from the surface of the sea, as well as at low altitude around waves and obstacles,” says Aurora Flight Sciences in a press release.

$8 million has been allocated for the project. Another 29 million will be received by the developer who wins the first stage of the competition. However, Western analysts and experts doubt the implementation of such an ambitious project.

“Doubts cannot be avoided that the Ministry of Defense will actually put Liberty Lifter into production. Cost, as always, will be a huge factor here. This is a very large aircraft. Making it relatively affordable in production will be a big problem,” writes NavalNews.

A lot has already been written about the Pentagon’s desire for futuristic but ineffective projects. Convertiplanes instead of traditional helicopters and stealth tankers look interesting and unusual, but the implementation of such projects looks doubtful.

Only the Soviet Union was able to build an ekranoplan. The Caspian monster “Lun” impressed with its size, but it was never used for its intended purpose. His destiny is to become a museum exhibit. The Pentagon is about to fall into the same trap. We wish them good luck.