DARPA Will Develop Ground-Effect Vehicles

DARPA Will Develop Ground-Effect Vehicles
Wigetworks’ Airfish-8 is a ground-effect vehicle that hopes to achieve commercial success.

On August 18, the US Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) issued a request for information (RFI) to the industry in search of technology that would aid in the development of new ground-effect vehicles (GEVs).

It may travel across the surface by obtaining support from the responses of the air against the surface of the land or water. It is also known as a wing-in-ground-effect (WIG) vehicle, ground-effect craft, wingship, flarecraft, or ekranoplan. According to sources, the US military wants something more quicker than ships and with a greater payload than Vertical Take-Off and Landing (VTOL) and other marine aircraft. 

DARPA is interested in developing a new vehicle class that overcomes the primary operating constraints of existing air and sea lift platforms. It is currently looking for novel GEV concepts that can achieve higher aerodynamic efficiency while addressing several of the operational constraints of existing sea and airlift platforms in maritime theatres.

DARPA Will Develop Ground-Effect Vehicles
Wigetworks Airfish-8: speeds over the water and takes off.

DARPA highlighted that this new design has a huge operational payload (100+ tons) and the potential to transport numerous amphibious vehicles, as well as prolonged out of ground effect flying capabilities for obstacle avoidance, optimize ground effect flight duration for enhanced range and high sea state operation for in-ground effect flight, take-off and landing, and prolonged on-water operations.

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 are all goals for the GEV.