Terrafugia Tapped for DARPA Project
December 2, 2010 — The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) announced this week that Terrafugia Inc. will help develop a four-place roadable aircraft called the Transformer. Terrafugia is the largest subcontractor to one of two winning teams, led by AAI Corporation and comprised of other Textron companies, for the $65-million program.
Terrafugia, headquartered in Woburn, Massachusetts, is in the process of developing its two-place Transition Roadable Aircraft, a roadable airplane aiming for certification as a light-sport aircraft in 2011. The company’s prototype has been displayed at AirVenture Oshkosh, and the company unveiled its new design for the Transition here last summer.
The Transformer would operate like a Humvee on the ground while also providing helicopter-like mobility, Terrafugia stated in a press release. The vehicle would have “unprecedented capability to avoid traditional and asymmetrical threats while avoiding road obstructions,” according to DARPA.
Intended missions include medical evacuation, avoidance of improvised explosive devices, remote resupply, and Special Forces insertion. The vehicle will be able to travel 280 miles by land and air, use vertical takeoff and landing to increase access to difficult terrain, and automate flight controls to enable operation by non-pilots.
“This DARPA program effectively leverages Terrafugia’s core competencies and enables us to grow from a pure GA company to an emerging aerospace company with both general aviation and defense development programs,” commented Terrafugia CEO Carl Dietrich.
Phase I of the five-year program will focus on conceptual design of both a prototype and a production vehicle. Phases II and III will focus on the design and manufacture of a prototype that could be ready as early as the first quarter of 2015.