Paris — American leathernecks can expect Vaylon, a French startup company, to pitch a stealthy flying car to the US Marine Corps, with France helping to fund work on the paragliding dune buggy.
Vaylon is funded by a €700,000 ($795,000) government loan to develop and build a Pegase Mk2, based on a prototype tested by French special forces.
After a short take off, powered flight and silent glide, a pilot lands and becomes a driver, powered by a Peugeot scooter motor.
The company plans to present its dual-use civil and military Pegase Mk2 to the US delegation at the Eurosatory trade show for land weapons, said Francis Rodriguez, vice president for sales and marketing. The exhibition runs June 13-17.
A flying demonstration is planned at the show, with the vehicle presented to visiting delegations at a price tag of €100,000.
"I am looking to sell the first flying vehicle under full scale production in the world," Rodriguez said.
Later, the firm plans to ship the vehicle to the US for a visit of special forces and a tour of the services' bases, he said. A date has yet to be set. There is also a planned visit to a luxury car dealer in Las Vegas to discuss sales for the civilian market.
A failed attempt by French special forces to rescue a spy held by insurgents in Somalia in 2013 spelled the need for a silent delivery. The helicopters could be heard as they approached in the night, alerting the irregular forces and leading to the loss of two French commandos.
The Defense Ministry and Direction Générale de l'Armement procurement office approved a refundable loan, half the budget to develop and build the Pegase Mk2. Vaylon will raise the rest. DGA has pledged to help small and medium companies.
The French special forces concluded tests of the Mk1 version, but officials have requested strict confidentiality of the outcome.
Vaylon presented the flying vehicle to US officers last year at Sofins, the French trade show for special forces at Souge army base, near Bordeaux, southwest France. The company has pitched the vehicle to the United Arab Emirates as a way to conduct surveillance of a vital water supply and for border protection.
A stealthy approach underlies the Pegase, designed to take off under powered flight, fly at 3,000 meters and glide silently to the target, where the crew "will knock on the door," Rodriguez said. A helicopter can be heard long before landing, giving ample warning.
The Mk2 export version differs from the Mk1 by carrying the crew in tandem rather than side-by-side, thus lowering its profile.
The latest version has two engines – one for flying, one for road use to comply with environmental requirements -- while the Mk1 has one engine. MK2 is also lighter than the prototype.
Pegase is due to go on static display at Eurosatory, and a request has been made to the civil authorities and Paris Le Bourget airport for flying display at the show.