The U.S. Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) released a request for information (RFI) on August 18 to industry seeking technologies that would support its development of new ground-effect vehicles (GEVs).
Also called wing-in-ground-effect (WIG) vehicle, ground-effect craft, wingship, flarecraft or ekranoplan, it can move over the surface by gaining support from the reactions of the air against the surface of the earth or water. As per reports, the U.S. military wants something that is far faster than ships and with a higher payload than Vertical Takeoff and Landing (VTOL) and other maritime aircraft.
DARPA is interested in the design of a new class of vehicle that addresses the major operational limitations of traditional air and sea lift platforms. It is now seeking ideas for new GEVs that can achieve increased aerodynamic efficiencies and address many of the operational limitations of traditional sea and airlift platforms in maritime theaters.
DARPA noted that specific features of this new concept are large operational payload (100+ tons) and capability of carrying multiple amphibious vehicles, extended out of ground effect flight capability for obstacle avoidance, maximize flight time in ground effect for increased range and high sea state operation for in-ground effect flight as well as takeoff and landing and extended on-water operations.
The agency wants the GEV to be able to perform a number of missions: Expeditionary Advanced Base Operations (EABO); Distributed Maritime Operations (DMO); Distributed logistics and logistics under threat operations; Combat Search and Rescue (CSAR), on-site triage, mass casualty rescue; Amphibious operations; Unmanned vehicle operations; and Low payload, long duration arctic patrol flights.