Our friends at Popular Mechanics are reporting that “DARPA has selected two companies to proceed with the next stage of its Transformer, a fully automated four-person vehicle that can drive like a car and then take off and fly like an aircraft to avoid roadside bombs. Lockheed Martin and AAI Corp., a unit of Textron Systems, are currently in negotiations with DARPA for the first stage of the Transformer project.”
The gee-whizzery is undeniable here, and the article points out that DARPA has $40 million to spend on developing a’TX,’ as the project is known. But having spent a few years around military procurement and several weeks in Afghanistan recently, I have doubts about the craft’s ability to make it to the front lines — literally and figuratively.
Who’s going to fly/drive it? Do we specially train Joes or do infantry units add dozens of pilots? What kind of RW gear will it have? (The threat immediately jumps from IEDs to RPGs and SAMs once you get airborne.) Who’s going to work on it around the FOBs and COPs? And what’s the cost per copy?
Read the entire PopMech story here.