JMR (Joint Multi-Role) & FVL (Future Vertical Lift) Programs

Sundog

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Here's the Tweet with the concept Art. I like it and give them credit for pushing the design farther than I thought they would. It's definitely the Cheyenne reborn. However, regarding some of the stupid comments at Twitter, this looks to be much faster than a Hind ever was, hence the retractable gear.
 

sferrin

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They need a rigid rotor if they want to approach Cheyenne speeds.
 

TomS

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They need a rigid rotor if they want to approach Cheyenne speeds.
Are we sure it isn't? There are boots on the rotors that make it unclear whether the usual hinges are there or not.
 

yasotay

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At a minimum it does look like a new rotor system. One of the areas that the current Apache has had difficulty with.
 

sferrin

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TomcatViP

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Notice that reading the crash investigation report, it does not seem as an evidence that both stacked rotors collided. The bank angle (software glitch) and ground proximity might be a more accurate explanation than blades lacking rigidity.
 
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TomS

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They need a rigid rotor if they want to approach Cheyenne speeds.
Are we sure it isn't? There are boots on the rotors that make it unclear whether the usual hinges are there or not.
At the presentation they said that they decided against a new rotor on the grounds of cost.
Yeah, understandable, especially given the speed they think they can hit without it. I still suspect the boots are new, for drag reduction (and maybe signature reduction as well?)
 

flateric

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BTW, AH-64E should receive new improved design rotor hub in foreseeable future, Boeing has already received a patent for it. Hope it has mega Mega Nuts and Bolts..
 

sferrin

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I keep wondering when they're going to get rid of swashplates.
 

Moose

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Breaking Defense with an article that pairs well with fredymac's video: Bell says it’s V-280 Valor tiltrotor has met the Army’s requirement for low-speed, low-altitude agility, at least equaling the UH-60 Black Hawk it’s contending to replace.
Agility here measures specifically the aircraft’s “ability to respond rapidly and precisely to pilot inputs at low speeds or ‘at the X,’ [i.e.] at the landing site,” Bell’s delighted program manager, Ryan Ehinger, told me in an interview. “The V-280 handles like a sports car.”
 

yasotay

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The Army does not want a sports car. They want a pickup truck. ...maybe mud tires and a roll bar.

That said Bell has been doing like two or three flights a week, consistently. Hard to argue with "they are flying".
 
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TomcatViP

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Also on the Drive, interview with:
Tim Malia, Director of Sikorsky Future Vertical Lift—Light, Bill Fell, senior experimental test pilot for Sikorsky's S-97 and joint multi-role programs[ ...] and last, but certainly not least, Chris Van Buiten, Vice President, Sikorsky Innovations.
 

yasotay

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Mr. Warwick's splendid article this weeks AW&ST.

U.S. Army Seeks Accelerated Fielding Of Next-Generation Rotorcraft

May 23, 2019 Graham Warwick | Aviation Week & Space Technology

The U.S. Army has been criticized for operating essentially the same helicopters for decades. But this has worked—until now. The wars in Afghanistan and Iraq showed the limitations of machines developed in the 1960s and ’70s, but the pivot to face a peer threat has convinced the Army it can no longer make do.

The result is a sudden sense of urgency behind the Pentagon’s Future Vertical Lift (FVL) initiative to develop a new generation of rotorcraft. The Army wants to field a new armed scout by 2028 and an assault transport by 2030—and it is willing to make sacrifices to get them, trimming requirements and forgoing upgrades to its current helicopters.

- New armed scout planned by 2028 via rapid acquisition
- Aim is to also accelerate assault aircraft program to field by 2030

“We have reached an inflection point. The overmatch we desire will not exist if we keep incrementally upgrading our fleet,” Col. Robert Barrie, military deputy to the Army program executive officer for aviation, told the Vertical Flight Society’s Forum 75 convention in Philadelphia on May 16.

But FVL was conceived as a joint effort, and the Army’s new-found urgency is putting a strain on the original concept of finding common solutions to the needs of multiple branches of the military for new rotorcraft.

The problem is the threat. To stand any chance of surviving against China’s integrated air defense systems (IADS), Army rotorcraft will need the speed and range to deploy from relative sanctuary and conduct deep air assaults without much security, says Col. Matt Isaacson, operations officer in the FVL Cross-Functional Team (CFT) within Army Futures Command.

Futures Command was established in 2018 to realize the Army’s modernization priorities, of which FVL ranks third on the list. First is Long-Range Precision Fires—new missile-delivered munitions that are an essential part of the Army’s plan to breach enemy defenses and allow its rotorcraft onto the battlefield.

The FVL CFT’s top priority is the Future Attack Reconnaissance Aircraft (FARA), seen as the true heir to the armed scout role that was once performed by the Bell OH-58D Kiowa Warrior but is now being fulfilled by Boeing AH-64E Apaches teamed with Textron RQ-7BV2 Shadow unmanned aircraft systems (UAS).

The Army is moving fast with FARA, using the Other Transaction Authority for Prototype (OTAP) procurement mechanism to complete a competitive flyoff between two production-representative designs at the end of fiscal 2023, launch development in 2024 and field aircraft by 2028. “Schedule is king,” says Dan Bailey, FARA Competitive Prototype program manager.


Bell’s V-280 tiltrotor has met its agility goals in a bid to replace the UH-60 helicopter. Credit: Bell

Now the Army wants to move faster with its second aviation priority: the Future Long-Range Assault Aircraft (FLRAA) to replace its Sikorsky UH-60M/V Black Hawk medium utility helicopters. Unlike FARA, FLRAA has long been planned as a traditional DOD 5000 procurement. But now the Army wants to accelerate the program.

When it formed, the CFT had two areas of concern with the program. First, it would not equip the initial unit with aircraft until 2034. “It was late to need,” says Col. Steve Clark, FLRAA program manager. Second, it would leave a gap between completion of the Joint Multi-Role Technology Demonstration (JMR TD) at the end of fiscal 2019 and the beginning of technology maturation and risk reduction (TMRR) under a program of record in 2023.

“That was an undesirable outcome that would idle the industry and government organizations involved,” Clark says. But, after six months of work, “we have set the conditions to change both,” he notes.

The Army is seeking funds in fiscal 2020 to continue flight-testing the Bell V-280 Valor advanced tiltrotor and Sikorsky/Boeing SB-1 Defiant coaxial rigid-rotor compound helicopter under the JMR TD to close the gap. It also is seeking to accelerate FLRAA so as to deliver aircraft no later than 2030.

VIDEO:

Although industry says it is ready to move faster, it is not that easy. FLRAA, or more correctly FVL Capability Set 3, is a joint-service program that involves the U.S. Marine Corps and Special Operations Command (SOCOM). It is Army-led, but acquisition authority lies with the Office of the Secretary of Defense (OSD).

The Army hopes to learn in June whether the OSD will give it acquisition authority and allow it to accelerate FLRAA under a modified DOD 5000 acquisition process or some other tailored approach. “We believe we are uniquely positioned to accelerate the program,” says Clark, citing the progress made under the JMR TD.

The Marines might disagree. Their version of FLRAA is the Attack/Utility Replacement Aircraft (AURA), which is intended to replace both the Bell AH-1Z Viper and the UH-1Y Venom. The Marines participated with the Army and SOCOM in the analysis of alternatives, delivering the final report to the OSD on May 19.

“The Army’s requirement is much more urgent than the Marine Corps’, which is still building H-1s,” says Dave Baden, ARUA lead in the H-1 program office at Naval Air Systems Command. The Marine Corps cannot afford to move faster, he says, and its needs differ significantly in more than just timing.

The Army is looking for a maximum cruise speed of 250-280 kt. and an unrefueled combat radius of 200-300 nm with 12 troops. The Marines want a dash speed of 300-330 kt. and a 450-nm radius with 10 troops. Their driving requirement is armed escort for the Bell Boeing MV-22B Osprey tiltrotor. The H-1 is too slow, so the Marines must use their scarce Lockheed Martin F-35Bs as escorts, says Baden.

The Marines want AURA to not only keep up with the 275-kt. MV-22 but be able to get to the landing zone ahead of the Ospreys to provide defensive support, or to divert en route to deal with an objective before catching up with the tiltrotors.

Designed for a 280-kt. cruise speed, Bell’s V-280 has exceeded 300 kt. in tests. The SB-1 is designed for at least 250 kt. but could go faster with more power. The upper limit is “certainly [faster than] 250 kt., and it is certainly less than 400,” says Randy Rotte, Boeing’s vice president of business development for FVL. “It is not so much what the configuration can do; it is how much power I put in there.”

VIDEO: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iCOfokeEX2khttps://youtu.be/...

“We are willing to see how development proceeds and if the requirements can align. If it is not achievable, then we can build that technology into a Marine version,” says Baden. “We are trying to see if we can get to a common aircraft or, if not, how to build off the technology each [team] is developing.”

FARA could also be a joint program, and the requirements document has annexes for SOCOM and the U.S. Coast Guard. “We have asked industry to keep that in mind, but the Army has the near-term need, and the first increment [of FARA] is for the Army mission,” says Bailey. “The first development effort is very Army-centric.”

To meet its aggressive schedule, the Army is deliberately limiting its requirements. Elements required are size, speed and affordability—a maximum rotor diameter of 40 ft., target mission takeoff gross weight of 14,000 lb., minimum cruise speed of 180 kt. and a flyaway cost no greater than $30 million. The desired attributes, including a mission radius greater than 135 nm, are all tradeable, Bailey says.

FARA has to be powered by the 3,000-shp Improved Turbine Engine and armed with a 20-mm gun and the Integrated Munitions Launcher carrying “Air-Launched Effects”—the Army’s term for air-dropped small UAS—all government-furnished. A modular open systems architecture is required to enable easy upgrades and is likely to come from the JMR Mission System Architecture Demonstration.

The Army sees FARA at the center of its IADS breach team, which includes long-range fires and air-launched UAS. Size is driven by survivability and the ability to hide in the radar clutter and fly between, rather than over, buildings in urban conflicts. Cost is based on that of the AH-64E, which FARA is intended to replace in the armed reconnaissance role.


Boeing is testing a compound configuration for an “affordable” upgrade to the AH-64E. Credit: Boeing

Schedule is paramount, and the Army wants competitive prototyping to be as close as possible to a TMRR phase without being in a program of record, with the follow-on qualification phase limited to integrating mission equipment—still under an “other transactions” rapid acquisition. “We will build hooks into OTAP to continue the program,” says Bailey, adding: “Congress has allowed us to do things differently.”

But this speed has consequences for the current fleet. Army officials at the convention cautioned that the service does not have the budget to both pursue FVL and upgrade its existing helicopters beyond the planned reengining of the AH-64 and UH-60 with ITE. Boeing has completed initial wind-tunnel tests of a compound-helicopter version of an upgraded “Block II” AH-64E with 185-kt. cruise and 450-nm range—echoing the FARA requirements—but program officials acknowledge the fiscal constraints.

Most controversially, in order to fund FVL, the 2020 budget delays the Block II upgrade to Boeing’s CH-47F, and Army Secretary Mark Esper is challenging industry to come up with a better heavy-lift solution. “Is it a Block II or a Block IV, V or VI? I don’t know,” he says. “I think in two or three years we’ll have a better idea of where we are as far as developing [FARA and FLRAA], and that will drive the decision [on Chinook],” says Gen. James McConville, Army vice chief of staff.

—With Steve Trimble and Lee Hudson in Washington
 

Sundog

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Given how Boeing has been operating recently, I wouldn't be shocked to see the compound Apache offered at AH-64E pricing. I also don't think the Army should wait for the Marines. While the speed of the Sikorsky technology is scale-able based on power, what about the range? It seems to me the Marine requirement will lead to a marginally larger aircraft, which also means more cost. All the more reason the Army shouldn't wait for them.
 

marauder2048

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HOGE is kryptonite to small wing compounds. What Warwick neglected to tell you is that Boeing needs a transmission
that doesn't exist to get anywhere close to meeting the Army's typical HOGE reqs.
 

yasotay

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@ Sundog - never underestimate the power of the bureaucracy. While the Army can get the FARA (scout) because no one else wants a aircraft of that mission size, the FLRAA aircraft is of a size that has a number of potential similar missions (F4 Phantom comes to mind) that will likely press OSD to push for a common air vehicle.

@ marauder2048 - I was thinking the same thing.
 

yasotay

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Hmm... thought occurs to me that since the US Army still has a love of winged compound (from reading their aero-engineering papers)
it is not surprising that industry is showing what it thinks the Army wants to see (AVX FARA and now AH-64 compound).
 
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