California-based JetPack Aviation has announced the successful selection of its Speeder VTOL by the highly competitive AFWERX High-Speed VTOL (HSVTOL) Concept Challenge, launched in partnership with the US Air Force (USAF) and US Special Operations Command (USSOCOM). JetPack Aviation is one of just three OEMs included in the 35 successful challengers, which were selected from a total of 218 submissions. Initial presentations are being made to the AFWERX representatives this week to highlight the capabilities of the Speeder, and its potential applications for military operations.
Looking to satisfy mission profiles including the infiltration and exfiltration of Special Operations Forces (SOF), personnel recovery, aeromedical evacuation, and tactical mobility, at jet-type speeds, the HSVTOL Concept is ideally suited to the JetPack Aviation Speeder VTOL. Powered by small, gimballed turbojet engines, the Speeder promises to reach speeds approaching 300mph, with unprecedented payload capability currently available only from considerably larger helicopter airframes. The Speeder’s footprint is also significantly reduced since it has no rotors, ducted fans, or propellers which reduces/negates the need for specific ground infrastructure.
Launching the HSVTOL Concept Challenge on May 5, Reid Melville, Chief Innovation Officer, Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL) Transformational Capabilities Office, said: “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.”
Those who progress through the challenge rounds may become eligible for funding associated with research, development, testing, and subsequently procurement contracts to produce and field aircraft to the USAF.
“We are extremely proud to have been invited to participate in the AFWERX Challenge. It demonstrates that developing the Speeder concept to deliver immediate, multi-purpose applications is relevant to today’s military forces. Selection for AFWERX is notoriously difficult, and we can’t wait to showcase the versatile, scalable capabilities of the Speeder and the huge benefits it can bring to military operations and engagement, fire-fighting support, emergency extraction and theatre of combat environments,” said David Mayman, CEO of JetPack Aviation.
Easily transportable in a car or motorcycle trailer and immediately ready to fly, with no charging or other aviation infrastructure requirements, the Speeder offers high-speed forward flight with control and lift affected by aerodynamic surfaces as required, building on the aircraft’s ability to fly on engine thrust vectoring. The Speeder is modular, offering various missionised payloads, optionally piloted and simple enough to operate and maintain under austere field conditions. The aircraft burns regular Jet A-1, kerosene, or diesel, but in a recent cooperative supply agreement with Prometheus Fuels Inc., JetPack Aviation has committed to using 100% zero net carbon fuel in all its future operations.
JetPack Aviation has completed flight trials with the first full-scale Speeder – P1 prototype. Flight test of P1.5, the second full-scale prototype, is expected to begin later in Q3-Q4 2021. Aircraft P2, featuring a fully formed body, small, field-removable wings, and forward canards, should fly from Q1/2 2022. Thanks to its unique combination of heavy payload, speed, VTOL operation, simplicity and autonomous flight options, the Speeder offers unprecedented special missions capability, with longer-term application to the urban air mobility market. Demand is expected to be high, and JetPack Aviation has already begun readying letters of intent for customers and taking pre-orders for the aircraft.