Thinking green with the 'Humvee of the air'

Frontline Aerospace says that its V-STAR ducted-fan aircraft will be both much faster and much more fuel-efficient than today's helicopters.

Frontline Aerospace

Another entrant in the race to produce a ducted-fan-propelled, vertical-take-off-and-landing UAV, the planned "humvee of the air" will morph to different missions and reach targets three times faster than helicopters, according to the manufacturer.

The official name of the vehicle is VTOL-Swift Tactical Aerial Resource, or V-STAR. With a cruising speed of 288 knots, a 650-mile range and a 400-pound payload, the V-STAR promises to be a "breakthrough solution for frontline military logistics," according to Broomfield, Colo.-based Frontline Aerospace. The aircraft would use a Rolls-Royce gas turbine with counter-rotating blades and "diamond-box-wing" design that transitions to forward flight when needed.

The company is touting the V-Star's multirole flexibility. "The modular payload approach allows for rapid change-out in the field--one minute providing troops with ammo, food, water and fuel--and the next minute providing tactical reconnaissance, communications and close combat support," according to the press release.

It's also making a pitch for green appeal, by incorporating advanced MicroFire technology to give it a decidedly un-Humvee-like fuel efficiency and reduced carbon emission footprint.

"Frankly, we are keeping our MicroFire capability somewhat under wraps at this point," said Frontline founder and Chief Executive Officer Ryan S. Wood. "But we realize MicroFire can increase endurance and fuel economy not only for UAVs, but also create significant fuel savings for a whole class of helicopter engines worldwide--thus creating a true 'green' helicopter."

MicroFire is a "high-temperature counter-flow heat exchanger that extracts heat from the hot engine exhaust and transfers it to the compressed engine air before combustion," an operation that "can sometimes double the overall thermal efficiency of the engine," according to Frontline.

Given the flying Hummer's ability to morph from attack to recon or target acquisition and then back to combat logistics all while fighting global warming--there's only one thing left to do. Build a stretch version in time for prom season.

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