Boeing shows off concepts for 2030 helicopters

Boeing had this image on display at the Association of the US Army's (AUSA) annual convention in Washington DC this week, showing four concept helicopters destined for deployment in 2030. Two decades is a long time from now, but prototypes (or close to it) are flying already.

The first of the bunch, closest to us in the image, looks to be a high-speed transport helicopter that could conceivably replace the MH-60 Blackhawk. The pusher propeller gives it increased speed and efficiency, and the wings help it lift more payload. If someone were to build one today, which they have, it would look like this:

x49-2.jpg

This is the Piasecki X-49 "SpeedHawk," a concept helicopter built under a Navy contract that first flew in 2007. It's got wings ripped straight off a business jet, and is still undergoing flight testing.

The next concept should be familiar; it's an updated version of the Chinook that'll probably be bigger and badder. Second from the back (the helicopter with the pancake hat) is Boeing's entry into DARPA's DiscRotor program. They're already working on a 20% scale demonstrator model, and it'll probably look something like this:

boeing_discrotor.jpg

DiscRotor takes off like a helicopter, and as it speeds up, the rotors retract into that big disc to cut down on drag and offer a substantial increase in cruise speed and efficiency.

The last concept is an updated version of the V-22 Osprey, and more details on that one should be forthcoming.

All of these helicopters fit well into the philosophy of a leaner and more responsive military, it's just a shame that it's gonna take until 2030 for these concepts to be made real. On the other hand, some of these things are obviously creeping in to production already, and it's possible that they might even trickle down and inform general aviation a little bit. Personal VTOL pancake-hat helicopter, anyone?

Via FlightGlobal

For the latest tech stories, follow us on Twitter at @dvice