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News Link • Science, Medicine and Technology

Darpa Wants to Rethink the Helicopter to Make It Go Way Faster

•, By Spencer Ackerman
 That function is so important to the military that the U.S. designed fixed-wing aircraft to do the same thing, like the Marines’ iconic Harrier jet or their weird tilt-rotor Osprey.

And they actually all suck, according to the Pentagon’s blue-sky researchers at Darpa, who are launching an effort to blow up and re-imagine helicopters, jump jets and tilt-rotors. It’s time to make these “VTOL” aircraft — the collective term for Vertical Take-Off and Landing — way, way faster, without sacrificing their ability to hover or other functionality.

Like any aircraft, VTOLs are most vulnerable to enemy attack when they’re taking off and landing. But unlike other aircraft, they’re slow to ascend and descend, a particular problem when an adversary lurking nearby knows exactly what pattern the VTOLs will use to get off the ground and back onto it.

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