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Thursday, June 23, 2011

CONCEPT HELICOPTERS [HOVERCOPTERS]

The term Hovercopter is coined in the DSNG sci fi series and it refers to hovercrafts designed as futuristic helicopters with advanced cyborg sensors that moderate their functional interfaces, allowing a more seamless integration between man and machine. The interface is probably facilitated by a high-tech helmet that has a cybernetic link to the navigational mainframe of the Hovercopter. and in some cases, the pilot actually has an embedded BCI chip in their cranium allowing his very thoughts to be translated effortlessly to the thrusters and controls of the Hovercopter.

 



[Above: hovercraft / helicopter concept art by other digital artists]

The materials used for construction of the Hovercopters are commonly carbon-fiber alloys, fused with titanium and magnium [a metallic element created in the futuristic DSNG sci fi series] while their on-board aviation systems resembles those of a classic Harrier jet designed to hover in position. This means that Hovercopters are capable of VTOL sequences - Vertical TakeOff and Landing, having the maneuverability of classic helipcoters, although they can exceed helicopters in terms of achievable maximum velocities.

The first poster below showcases a perfect example of a dynamic VTOL sequence from a horizontal deck, presented in the concept art of Paul Chadeisson. Per the frontal design and compact size, this vessel is clearly a hovercopter, and not a jet:

 
And in this image above, it is clear that vertical lift is being achieved by the downward propulsion of the thrusters embedded within the wings of the two-pilot hovercraft. Look carefully and you'll note the rear thruster module, perhaps a compact ramjet engine at the tail end of the craft, which will assist in forward propulsion once the predetermined lift-off altitude is achieved.

 


 


[More Helicopter / Hovercopter Concept Art by other cool artists, including Alex DrummondThomas Crausaz, Scott Robertson & Darren Quach]


Hovercopters are intended for use as light carrier vessels, passenger vessels, and even air-to-surface combat crafts. They can be colloquially viewed as "small commuter spacecrafts" that are restricted to travel within the planet's exospheric boundaries. Their adopted weapons payload and size can vary, but in the DSNG series they are commonly grouped as Class1 dropships - which commonly carry between 3 to 30 passengers.

Some Hovercopters have their rotors and thruster engines embedded within their wings or in their ventral sides that face the ground, while others have those spinning rotors attached to the edges of their opposite wings. Some may have central rotors mounted upon their crests, but per the level of nanotechnology applied to the design of the gravity defying mechanisms of the craft, that may not even be necessary.

Rapid landings and hasty takeoffs are essential qualities that need to be considered when designing and contriving Hovercopters / small-sized Class1 dropships, to ensure that they can move nimbly and literally "drop shipments" into commercial areas or battle zones, as shown in the image below:



Hovercopters don't have to look like helicopters; it is merely a conceptual tag, created to categorize a specific group of light carrier vessels. And they were designed to display the maneuverability and functionality of the classic Bell-Boeing MV-22 Osprey [often called the V-22 Osprey], which took its first successful flight back in 1989. It can hold up to 32 troopers within its hull. Per its powerful twin rotors amended on the edge of each wing [two Rolls-Royce AE 1107C engines are commonly installed], it can achieve a maximum velocity of about 350 miles per hour, at high altitudes and about 270 miles per hour at sea level.

  

  
 
  


      


This large helicopter was actually featured in Transformers 3, Dark of The Moon, when the soldiers were diving towards the city in the heart of Chicago.
From Wiki: The Bell-Boeing V-22 Osprey [shown in the two pics above] is an American multi-mission, military, tiltrotor aircraft with both a vertical takeoff and landing (VTOL), and short takeoff and landing (STOL) capability.


THE RUSSIAN ALLIGATOR!
The Russian KA-52 Attack Helicopter is a uniquely designed craft that incorporates two top rotors having three blades each. It is currently tagged as a scout / attack / command helicopter, and it is the next-gen descendant of the KA-50 helicopter.

  


 

The Ka-52 “Alligator” [shown above] is a 2-seat version of the Ka-50, using a side by side layout common to transport helicopters instead of the front-and-rear layout common in attack helicopters. This changes the helicopter’s aerodynamics somewhat, reducing maximum speed from 310 km/h to 300 km/h (192 – 186 mph), and increasing fuel consumption slightly. On the other hand, this change is expected to make it easier for the helicopter crew to perform battlefield observation and coordination roles. A Turkish-specific, NATO-compatible variant of the Ka-52 called the Erdogan was developed in cooperation with Israel’s IAI to compete in Turkey’s attack helicopter competition, but lost to Italy’s AW129T Mongoose.

While having powerful VTOL capabilities, it's armaments are mounted on 4 underwing and 2 wingtip hardpoints, and controlled by a helmet-mounted sight. Options include fuel tanks, jamming and self-defense pods, Igla-V (SA-18) air-air missiles, 9K121 Vikhr (AT-16) anti-armor missiles, and B8V-20 80mm rocket pods that can carry 20 rockets each.


** EDIT on DECEMBER 2011:
Here are some more posters and wallpapers of VTOL attack helicopters / hovercopters:





 

Most of these images have been floating across the Web. And when you right-click and ave them on your desktop, there should be a name/ description linked to them. The seconds image is by Nickolay Yeliseyev, who has a Cool Blog; I'm certain that the last / fourth image was done by a Russian digital artist named Dmitry Popov and his DA page is over HERE.


More Concept Helicopters!

One conceptual stealth helicopter that went "the way of the Dodo" was the RAH-66 Comanche designed by a joint effort between aerospace engineers at Boeing and Sikorsky. The craft was contrived to fulfill a recon role and it was also intended to designate targets for the AH-64 Apache. Its maximum speed was about 200 miles per hour, as sourced by prototype performance specs gathered back in 1996, and it could host just 2 passengers. The RAH-66 program was canceled in 2004 before it was fielded. It had an extremely streamlined design... and it is probably the sort of craft that should have been used in an 80s TV show or cartoon series designed for geeks....





Classic TV shows with Stealth Helicopters!

Futuristic Helicopters have always fascinated most young boys and others with slightly geek-like tendencies. Those of you that grew up in the 1980s probably remember such movies as Blue Thunder [released in 1983], which led to a TV series of the same name that ran for 1 season.
Another popular sci fi related show tied to an advanced stealth helicopter was Airwolf and it was a cool TV series that ran from 1984 until 1987. If you were a fan of the original A-Team with B.A. Baracus played by a guy named Mr. T, then you were probably a fan of Airwolf as well.

 

 


[Above: four different views of Airwolf, plus the DVD cover for Season 4 of the classic TV show]

While Blue Thunder was made from the shell of a French designed AĆ©rospatiale Gazelle, which was contrived as a five-seat light helicopter with a frontal canopy borrowed from an Apache, the Airwolf was a modified version of the classic sleek Bell 222 helicopter.

 

[Above: Blue thunder, modified from the Soko Gazelle designed by the firm now known as Aerospatiale]

In the respective TV series, both of the helicopters were equipped with stealth technology assets, and I do believe that Airwolf [the cooler craft] was capable of some slight transformations to unveil its weapons and incredible bursts of speed, almost similar to a certain Pontiac vehicle named Kitt... which also aired in an 1980s TV show called Knight Rider.

A brief pause for the Nerdgasm that most geeks in their mid 20s, 30s and 40s are experiencing, tied to nostalgia right now.


The future of helicopters: A need for More speed!

Just yesterday [ June 22, 2011], the new Eurocopter X3 debuted at the Paris Air Show. This sleek craft can tilt itself 90 degrees while in flight and remain in that position, so that one of its wings is pointing towards the the ground - regular helicopters can't do that. The X3 is the latest model by Sikorsky, which actually incorporates some of the technical specs of Hovercopters that I outlined above, proving that sci fi isn't too far from reality... Here is an exert from an online article that I found:

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Article by Jason Purr, June 22, 2011


The speedy new X3 helicopter made its public debut this week at the Paris Air Show, flying a demonstration routine in front of the aerospace industry crowd. Developed by Eurocopter, the X3 (pronounced ‘x-cubed’) has already flown more than 260 miles per hour, though the company says extreme top speed is not the only goal.
Unlike Sikorsky’s X2 helicopter, which is an entirely new design, the X3 is built around an existing airframe. Starting with its Dauphin helicopter, Eurocopter removed the tail rotor and added a pair of propellers mounted on short wings. These propellers are used to counter the torque of the main rotor like a tail rotor, and are also used to provide thrust to push the X3 beyond typical helicopter speeds.
The new helicopter uses twin engines like the standard Dauphin, but the engines are much more powerful and are used to power both the side propellers and main rotor.
Eurocopter CEO Lutz Bertling said in a statement the hybrid design will not only be fast, but it will also be affordable to customers.
“Future helicopters incorporating the X3 configuration will offer our customers about 50 percent more cruise speed and range at very affordable costs.”
During the week in Paris, Eurocopter has been reinforcing this message saying the other helicopters may be faster, but the X3 is aimed at developing a technology that is easily adaptable. The company says the speedy technology will add less than 25 percent to the cost of a comparable traditional helicopter.
Sikorsky firm has already begun development of its S-97 helicopter, which will be a larger aircraft aimed at military customers using the pusher propeller and co-axial rotor design of their former X2 helicopter [heralded as one of the worlds fastest compact helicopters, capable of reaching a top speed of about 290 miles per hour]. At the Paris Air Show Sikorsky said the S-97 will make its first flight within the next three and a half years, according to Rotor&Wing magazine.
Both companies see a wide-ranging market for the faster helicopters. In addition to military applications, the extra speed and range is attractive for search-and-rescue operations, law enforcement, offshore oil rig transportation and as private transportation. In other words, just about any application where helicopters are currently used as transportation would likely opt for more speed and range.
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More pics of the new Eurocopter X3:

 

 

All right, I know that concept designs for  futuristic helicpoters ought to be fully modern takes on classic vehicles... but am I the only one that thinks this new 2011 craft looks a lot like an expanded version of the 1980s Airwolf??? :)

Cool Links:

More details on the DSNG Sci Fi series, where Hovercopters are frequently utilized:  HERE

Blog Article on DSNG Chronicles Book 4, plus sexy artwork: HERE

Blog Article on Cheesecake art [if you're a geek at heart, you'll love it]: HERE

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