Chuck Norris defeated hordes of terrorists in the 1986 film Delta Force. His secret weapon? A dirt bike that fired rockets. Norris blew up jeeps, smashed through windows, and leaped from the bike onto a plane during mid-takeoff.
Now America's actual Special Operations Forces are one step closer to the Chuck Norris dream.
The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency — the Pentagon's fringe-science division — first gave military contractor Logos Technologies money to pursue a "stealth" dirt bike in April 2014. DARPA wants the bike for Special Forces units.
At the time, a Logos rep told War Is Boring the company would have a prototype up and running in under 12 months. That was overly optimistic. But on Jan. 6, DARPA awarded Logos Technologies a second grant.
Logos also revealed new details about the project … and a name for the bike — SilentHawk.
It's a cool name, but also a little confusing. Silent Hawk — spelled with two words — is the press nickname for the Pentagon's top-secret, stealth-modified Black Hawk helicopters. SEAL Team Six allegedly used Silent Hawks during the Osama Bin Laden raid.
DARPA's Phase 2 grants are worth upwards of $1 million. It's money Logos plans to spend developing an electric dirt bike worthy of Norris' legacy … without rocket launchers.
The under-development SilentHawk is an upgraded RedShift MX dirt bike. The RedShift is an electric racing bike developed by Atla Motors in California. SilentHawk uses the RedShift MX chassis and a special hybrid engine developed by Logos.
Logos spent the past year testing the concept. It ran the modified RedShift through dirt, mud, and sand. The company reported DARPA was happy with the tests. No word yet on whether Norris is happy.
The bike needs to be up to commandos' operational standards, otherwise it'd be worthless in the field. This means the bike has to be capable of rapid deployment for long periods — and in harsh environments, such as deserts and jungles.
The Pentagon has been trying to get commandos on bikes for years now. In 2013, U.S. Special Operations Command tried to use an all-electric Zero MMX bike. It didn't work out. The battery only lasted two hours.
But SilentHawk's hybrid-electric engine outperforms the Zero MMX.
Logos demonstrated its concept over the past year and DARPA gave the company the go-ahead to work on a prototype — which Logos will work on for the next 18 months.
Seen above are 3D renderings of the current design. The company also wants to vary the camouflage pattern depending on where commandos take SilentHawk.
Meaning the cool, jet-black design from Delta Force is probably a pipe dream. Commandos will have to settle for an all-terrain tiger stripe.
Last year, War Is Boring learned that the stealth bike ran on a drone engine. The engine for a secret stealth drone.
Logos is tight-lipped about the engine, except that it's based on a modified Cubewano system. Cubewano is a popular manufacturer of over-the-counter small engines used in drones.
The hybrid-electric engine can use three different fuels — gasoline, diesel, and JP8, a type of jet fuel. The firm also wants SilentHawk to travel over rugged terrain at a sustained 55 miles per hour using its genset engine.
The combustion engine isn't silent, but the electric engine is. This will allow Special Operations Forces to close long distances before switching to "stealth" mode. Which is really just running on an electric battery.
More interesting, the combustion engine is removable. Which means SilentHawk can become all-electric in the field. A rider can shed weight or switch out problem parts.
The SilentHawk's genset, muffler, radiators, and power control electronics also sit on a single chassis, which makes it easy to remove. It only takes 30 minutes. The process leaves behind the SilentHawk's battery, which can power the bike up to 50 miles.
It's not exactly rocket science. With any luck, the real Delta Force will be leaping from the backs of electric dirt bikes in two years.
From drones to AKs, high technology to low politics, War is Boring explores how and why we fight above, on, and below an angry world. Sign up for its daily email update here or subscribe to its RSS Feed here.