And the Navy, too, according to Sea Power
The Pentagon Office of Force Transformation and the Navy's fleet readiness and logistics office are assessing a 50-year-old technology to fill one of the biggest gaps in a naval warfighting concept for the future. The heliplane, a hybrid craft with both a rotor and wings, might be a way to provide the fleet with heavy lift "connectors" to rapidly move troops and materiel from ships at sea to tactical units ashore.
A key to the Navy's sea basing concept is for a craft that can lift a 40,000-pound cargo container and move it quickly to forward units. The idea behind sea basing is that U.S. forces sent to world hot spots will operate from the sea rather than building supply depots and headquarters ashore. Striking from ships at least 25 miles from shore, they would avoid traditional battlefront tactics and rely on the elements of high-speed strike, maneuver and surprise to force adversaries into a reactive posture. However, the services lack the fast, powerful "connectors" necessary to make that happen.
Arthur K. Cebrowski, director of the Office of Force Transformation, recently told reporters, "There are some things that we are keenly interested in. One of them is work on a gyrocopter. We stopped research on gyrocopters a long time ago, but right now there are people who believe" - and have demonstrated with a small-scale flying prototype - "that we may be able to lift upwards of 70,000 pounds at 450 knots and fly it over 30,000 feet and do vertical takeoff and landing."
The concept of which Cebrowski spoke is a proposed design by Carter Aviation Technologies of Wichita Falls, Texas. The design, called a Carter Heliplane Transport 150 (CHT-150), is a craft the size of a C-130 cargo plane. The heliplane is based on gyroplane technology in which a rotor is used for vertical and slow-speed flight. When cruising at high speeds, the wing provides all the lift, Carter Aviation said. The heliplane has long wings for efficient cruise, a four-blade rotor for hover and slow-speed flight, and two 24-foot-diameter lightweight pusher propellers for forward propulsion.
In flight, the heliplane gradually transfers lift and flight functions from the rotor to the wings. "A rotor is a very efficient device for providing lift at low speeds, but its drag increases rapidly" if the rotor must continue to support the aircraft as it picks up speed, according to a statement on the company's website. As the wings produce more of the lift, the rotor slows down, decreasing drag.
It's not pretty:
But it can carry the goods.
It may have non-military uses.
Update: Another company in the Gyroplane competition: Groen Brothers
which even proposes converting C-130's to autodynes
And the use for "sea-basing":
Hey, it's all about logistics.