Astro Aerospace’s Cavorite X5 eVTOL aircraft and Jaunt’s MAV55 Multi-Mission Air Vehicle have been selected for the highly competitive AFWERX High Speed VTOL (HSVTOL) Concept Challenge.

Launched in partnership with the US Air Force and US Special Operations Command (USSOCOM), it will explore innovative HSVTOL concepts that can support a wide range of military applications. Both are now in consideration to be granted funding associated with research, development, testing and exclusive contract opportunities to produce and field aircraft to the US Air Force and USSOCOM.

Reid Melville, Chief Innovation Officer, Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL) Transformational Capabilities Office stated at the Challenge’s May 5th launch: “The USAF and USSOCOM are seeking ground-breaking ideas that will further strengthen operational effectiveness and efficiency in contested, resource-constrained, and runway-independent settings.”

Astro’s Cavorite X5 has been designed for speed, stealth, and operational versatility to support military missions such as Special Operations Forces (SOF) infiltration and exfiltration, personnel recovery, aeromedical evacuation, and tactical mobility. It can travel more than 340 miles at speeds of 275mph and is also purposely designed for disaster relief, rescue missions and cargo transport.

The Cavorite X5’s wings allow for flight in a configuration much like a normal aircraft for 98 per cent of its mission, reducing drag for increased speed and operational range. Using a hybrid electric power system, the aircraft may also act as a mobile power generation station and potentially a remote command and control node on a military network.

Horizon Aircraft, a wholly owned subsidiary of Astro, has completed more than 250 test flights of a 1/6th scale prototype of the Cavorite X5 and will begin testing a 50 per cent scale aircraft in Q1 2022. This prototype will have a wingspan of over 20 feet, weigh almost 500 pounds and have identical control surfaces and moving wing sections as the full-scale aircraft.

Brandon Robinson, President of Astro Aerospace, said: “We are very proud that the Cavorite X5 was chosen for the extremely competitive AFWERX Challenge. The patented technology that underpins our advanced design represents a versatile, scalable platform that can easily be adapted to help our service people around the world.”

Jaunt’s MAV55 Multi-Mission Air Vehicle brings the speed and capabilities of a fixed-wing aircraft combined with its highly efficient and patented slowed rotor compound (SRC) technology. It has a useful load of 11,000lbs and can travel 1,400 nautical miles with payload at 268 kts, carrying 12 people.

The company’s SRC-enabling technologies bring advanced capabilities to the military, utilising a single main rotor for hover, takeoff and landing, and, high aspect ratio, small area wings for flight once aloft. 

SRC is a suite of technologies that dramatically slows the rotor as the forward airspeed increases and the wings take on the lift reducing drag, noise, and associated vibration. The configuration produces a lift to drag ratio 5x better than a helicopter, as demonstrated during over 300 flight test hours. 

Jaunt teamed up with VerdeGo Aero for this proposal to utilise a version of their proprietary electric/hybrid drive system already in development and nearing production on a different scale.  VerdeGo, as a mission-enabling system, was also one of the companies down-selected by the Air Force to the round of 35. Jaunt is currently developing an all-electric VTOL for the Urban Air Mobility market based on the same SRC technologies,

Jesse Crispino, Chief Operations Officer for Jaunt Air Mobility, said: “Having worked within USSOCOM in Rotary Wing Special Operation Forces during my military service, our team fully understands the mission requirements of infiltration and exfiltration, personnel recovery, aeromedical evacuation, and tactical mobility, at jet-like speeds. 

“These are the core fundamentals we applied in designing the MAV55. Still, we’ve also added the elements of lower acoustic signatures and minimal downwash in hover operations.”

Earlier this year, Jaunt completed three Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) contracts for the Agility Prime Office of AFWERX via contracts through the Air Force Research Laboratory. These contracts covered Extreme Fast Charging (XFC), Advanced Manufacturing of Thermoplastics, and Acoustics.

Jaunt worked with BAE Systems and Binghamton University to assist in designing a large-scale fast-charging system nearly twice as efficient as current chargers on the market today. Working with Qarbon Aerospace and Georgia Tech, Jaunt validated and quantified the benefits of using thermoplastics for large-scale structures in the manufacturing process of this new aviation segment. 

Lastly, with Penn State and Continuum Dynamics Inc., Jaunt validated the Journey aircraft acoustic profile.