Air taxis for US Air Force autonomous, search and rescue vehicle

The US Air Force wants a drone that can fly out the back of an air transport, land, pick up a soldier, airman, or Marine trapped behind enemy lines, and escape to safer place. The Personnel Recovery/Transport Vehicle would leverage technology being developed to support the emerging air taxi industry to develop a new, autonomous, search and rescue vehicle.

Air taxis for US Air Force autonomous search and rescue vehicle

A C-130 Hercules could be used to drop those Personnel Recovery / Transport Vehicles (Picture source: US Air Force)

The Air Force Research Laboratory first posted the request for proposals for what they described as a "Personnel Recovery / Transport Vehicle" on the U.S. military's Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) program website on May 2, 2019.

"In supporting the 2018 National Defense Strategy there is a need to deploy, survive, operate, maneuver, and regenerate in all domains while under attack in theaters throughout the globe," the notice says. "Diverse environments will require operations from new isolated locations, at greater distances, requiring low cost solutions for increasing our options for providing transport of small teams of personnel into and out of harm's way without increasing the number of personnel at risk (the aircrew) needed to move these teams."

“Develop and demonstrate a low cost aerial platform capable of transporting 2-4 military personnel (one in medical litter) with no onboard traditional pilot and capable of at least 100 mile radius at speeds above 100kts and taking off and landing at unprepared locations approximately 50 by 50 feet but no larger than 150 ft. for supporting combat search and rescue, personnel recovery, and special operations in the field”.

The service thinks the same technology that would transport people in cities could get them out of tight situations in wartime, with the difference that the Personnel Recovery/Transport Vehicle would be dropped out the back of a military transport aircraft, like the C-130J Hercules.