Over the past few decades, the military has made great strides towards improving its stealth technology. Today, the U.S. Air Force can make use of stealth fighter jets and stealth bombers while the U.S. Navy can just as easily deploy stealth submarines and even stealth ships.
But what if a particular mission calls for something a bit smaller and just a tad more mobile? Meet the stealth motorcycle.
A few years ago, the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) sponsored a competition where companies were challenged to come up with a compelling stealth motorcycle design.
The underlying goal? To provide ground troops with the ability to navigate through tough terrain quickly and without detection. Such a bike could also airdropped down to troops on the ground whereupon they could use it and subsequently hide it “for later retrieval.”
Earlier this week, at the National Defense Industrial Association’s Special Operations Forces Industry Conference, two prototype stealth bikes were on full display.
One bike — The Silent Hawk — was developed by Logos while the other bike –dubbed Nightmare — was developed by LSA Autonomy. Not surprisingly, both are hybrid bikes.
The Silent Hawk in particular weighs 350 pounds, has a range of 170 miles, can reach a top speed of 80 mph and can store as much as 75 pounds of equipment. More importantly, when the bike is in “quiet mode”, the noise it emits is less than 55 decibels, which is to say about as loud as a normal conversation.
Troops attempting to maneuver with equipment during field operations face a number of challenges. Conventional transport vehicles can move people and cargo fast, but they have trouble negotiating extreme terrain. Likewise, the size and weight of these conventional vehicles is designed to make them difficult to airdrop.
With its thin profile and innovative two-wheel drive, Silent Hawk makes easy work of thick forests, narrow mountain paths, and rocky landscapes. The military bike is lightweight and is made for easy deployment—its large cargo capacity, auxiliary power ports, and interactive user interface support deep-penetrating operations.
The Nightmare sports specs similar to the Silent Hawk, though it weighs about 50 pounds more and can generate just a bit more horsepower. A photo of the Nightmare can be seen below.
Interestingly enough, both the Silent Hawk and the Nightmare can run on a number of different fuels, including gasoline, Jet-A1 fuel, propane and more.
Defense One notes:
Both bikes feature cutting-edge hybrid multi-fuel engines that can burn a variety of combustibles like JP-8, Jet A-1, gasoline, propane, etc.. “If it’s gasoline, tell it it’s gasoline, tell it it’s something else. It will figure it out,” said Alex Dzwill, and engineer with Logos.
Could you run it on lipids, olive oil? “Theoretically, yeah,” said Dzwill.
While it remains to be seen when these bikes will transition from prototypes to full-fledged vehicles used in operations, it appears that it may be sooner rather than later.