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Mon, Oct 12, 2009

Lofty Claims: Moller Says Skycar Could Help In Afghanistan With Fewer Soldiers

But Company Has Been Trying To Make It Work For 30+ Years

Moller International, which has reportedly been working on a "flying car" for more than 30 years, said Thursday that its Skycar technology is gaining ground within the military for potential use in high-tech, demanding battlefield applications like those in Afghanistan. “Afghanistan is not Iraq,” stated Lieutenant Colonel James Thomas, 304th SB, 3rd Expeditionary Sustainment Command. “The MRAP (Mine Resistant Ambush Protected) vehicle that turned the tide of battle in Iraq will have much less impact in Afghanistan,” he continued in a recently issued white paper entitled Winning an Asymmetric War with Skycars. This report, directed to the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), spelled out the numerous advantages the Skycar aircraft could offer the military in its effort to win the war in Afghanistan.

Moller Skycar Military Concept

“Poor and unimproved roads and rugged terrain severely limit the use of the MRAP. The Moller Skycar provides a more cost effective, highly maneuverable, lethal and safe platform for the 21st century soldier to dominate and win in an Asymmetric Warfare Environment. The Skycar will become the MRAP vehicle of Afghanistan. The ability to safely and rapidly employ soldiers on the battlefield enables us to exercise economy of force on the battlefield, doing more with fewer soldiers.”

Lieutenant Colonel Thomas is not the first voice within the military to suggest the use of the Skycar in improving maneuverability on the battlefield. In an article titled A Revolutionary Vehicle for the Future, Colonel Larry Harman, then Vice Director of the Combat Service Support Battle Laboratory at Fort Lee, Virginia, discusses the Skycar’s military version referred to as the LAMV (pronounced “lam-vee”), or light aerial multipurpose vehicle.

“(The) LAMV will benefit the Army’s battlefield distribution concept tremendously because it will be able to move commodities rapidly when and where they are needed across a widely dispersed battle space. Both air and ground main supply routes (MSR’s) would exist throughout the battle space,” he goes on to say.

“Without any doubt, this technological innovation will succeed internationally in the private, commercial, and military sectors," Harman added. "I hope that the U.S. Army will be the first army in the world to embrace and exploit this technology. But sooner rather than later, this aerial vehicle technology will affect all of our lives. It is just over the horizon.”

But Moller has its detractors as well. The company has been touting a flying car for more than 30 years, and has by some reports raised and spent tens of millions of dollars, producing no more than a prototype that achieved a tethered hover about 15 feet above the ground. In 2002 the company was the subject of an SEC complaint, which stated "From at least 1997 until October 2001, Paul S. Moller ("Moller"), a university professor and inventor, sold unregistered shares of MI stock directly to the public, raising approximately $5.1 million from more than 500 investors." At the time of the complaint, the SEC said "In reality, the Skycar was and still is a very early developmental-stage prototype that has no meaningful flight testing, proof of aeronautical feasibility, or proven commercial viability."

Under the tab "Purchase" on the Moller International website is simply a page that explains "Moller International is currently not taking deposits on aircraft." So, while Lt. Colonel Harman says the skycar is "just over the horizon", others remain very skeptical of the ability of Moller International to produce a product.

FMI: www.moller.com

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