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

yasotay

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U.S. Army To Buy 16 FLRAA Units For Development, Early Production
June 25, 2020

A sources-sought notice released by the U.S. Army June 23 keeps the Future Long Range Assault Aircraft competition on track for the release of the request for proposals next year and lays out new details of aircraft deliveries needed during the development phase and the first lot of low-rate initial production.

Aerospace Daily & Defense Report

I do not have AWIN access, but the title is interesting.
 

TomcatViP

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Signed on 14 July, the agreement, which also includes a range of ground-based military systems, marked the first formal expression of UK interest in the US Army programme to develop the next-generation of battlefield rotorcraft for the 2030s and beyond.

“The agreement is a sign of intent to formalise a number of ongoing initiatives between the two [nations’] armies, boosting opportunities to co-operate effectively as modern warfare continues to evolve,” the UK Ministry of Defence (MoD) said. “Key cutting-edge capabilities have been identified for closer collaboration to help narrow the gaps between UK and US forces so we can operate seamlessly together in future battlespaces.”
 

yasotay

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Good to see we are letting allies into these programs.
 

sferrin

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More Invictus CGI from Bell. Shows indications of using a DAS/HMD setup like the F-35.

I like the Invictus. I like the Raider more but the Invictus would probably be cheaper in the long run.
 

TomcatViP

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We know fully understand why there is not mast protubering from the rotor hub.

Edit: what a beautiful design!
 
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Sundog

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I like the Invictus. I like the Raider more but the Invictus would probably be cheaper in the long run.
In the end, unless one of them (Bell and Sikorsky) messes up massively, I don't see one of them getting both programs. I think Bell will win with the V-280 and, as a result, the Sikorsky Raider will get this program. If the Sikorsky SB-1 is chosen to replace the Blackhawk, then the Invictus will get this program. I know the Pentagon likes to claim they don't look at the manufacturing base when they award these programs, but we all know that's BS. Given how few airframers with experience we have now, I don't blame them.

Having said that, "Nice video." It looks like the LHX we should have had years ago.
 

yasotay

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I like the Invictus. I like the Raider more but the Invictus would probably be cheaper in the long run.
In the end, unless one of them (Bell and Sikorsky) messes up massively, I don't see one of them getting both programs. I think Bell will win with the V-280 and, as a result, the Sikorsky Raider will get this program. If the Sikorsky SB-1 is chosen to replace the Blackhawk, then the Invictus will get this program. I know the Pentagon likes to claim they don't look at the manufacturing base when they award these programs, but we all know that's BS. Given how few airframers with experience we have now, I don't blame them.

Having said that, "Nice video." It looks like the LHX we should have had years ago.
Several recent post here support your expectations regarding the way the competition pans out. I rather suspect your first guess is the most likely as that would coincide with the successful demonstration programs.
 

shin_getter

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I don't think helicopters is what you want to get into a missile range competition with. Be surviving below the horizon is insufficient (and it is with everyone getting air recon) and standoff is the thing, get vehicles suitable for that as opposed to low payload, slow, and expensive aircraft whose performance is optimized for hover.

The recent Iranian "cruise Anti-Air missile" should be a wake up call. The world of Spear-3 class missiles patrolling the battlespace is not good for current concepts, never mind battle network integration of LOAL missiles with low cost aerial sensing platforms. We are likely to see another Kosovo where helicopters gets left behind while higher performance air assets fight the air campaign even against regional powers.

It is hard to get excited about throwing money into getting unsuccessful late cold war tech to the field when next gen. concepts will hit buy the time it gets done.
 

TomcatViP

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Long range... because effectors. That's as simple.
With high altitude staring sensor (offset from the FLOT line or not), you won't need to close-in everytime your air launched drone has detected something deemed worth a kinetic strike. Once target validated, high speed helicopters can pop up and release their weapon to maximize their efficiency keeping them far from their target's defense.
You'd then have a network of fast flying helo close to the ground able to use hit and run tactics against ground forces similar to what high altitude prop fighter were known for but in reverse (speed for alt).
 
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yasotay

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I don't think helicopters is what you want to get into a missile range competition with. Be surviving below the horizon is insufficient (and it is with everyone getting air recon) and standoff is the thing, get vehicles suitable for that as opposed to low payload, slow, and expensive aircraft whose performance is optimized for hover.

The recent Iranian "cruise Anti-Air missile" should be a wake up call. The world of Spear-3 class missiles patrolling the battlespace is not good for current concepts, never mind battle network integration of LOAL missiles with low cost aerial sensing platforms. We are likely to see another Kosovo where helicopters gets left behind while higher performance air assets fight the air campaign even against regional powers.

It is hard to get excited about throwing money into getting unsuccessful late cold war tech to the field when next gen. concepts will hit buy the time it gets done.
@shin_getter Clearly you have not been keeping up with the Israeli operations to preclude Iranian weapons in Syria. Nor NATO operations in Libya. As a young Cobra pilot going to Europe I was told my helicopter would explode when I turned on the battery. I would die to SA-8, SA-13, SA-7 and the dread ZSU 23-4. Radars are like flashlights in the dark. Easy to see them for the most part. The farther you want to see with the radar the more power you have to put out. Not all radar frequencies work well with the ground clutter. To survive all of the things that hunt radars they cannot keep them on long. They have to move often because they can be geo-located in short order. Loitering missiles can "loiter" how long? They are invisible? Logistics, assuming everything else works, is always the long pole when it comes to darkening the sky's with this or that. Do you try to recover them if they don't find anything. Good luck with that. Helicopters are not invincible to be sure but like other battlefield operating systems they have to be used in conjunction with the rest of the combined arms team. And finally do you honestly think that those who operate helicopter fleets are not keenly aware of the threats out there? In fact I suspect that there are some in the competing military establishments who have a clue about things not even on the battlefield yet. The day may be coming when flying things (any flying thing) are unsafe due to energy weapons and such, but I do not think that day has come.

Since you mention Kosovo I would recommend to you reviewing two CSAR missions (O'Grady and the F-117 pilot) both of whom were rescued by one of the largest helicopters out there, CH/MH-53, that flew into active and prepared IADS to successfully rescue the downed fix wing pilots. At the time, the Serbian air defense force was very well trained.

View: https://www.youtube.com/watch?time_continue=8&v=McvFQiXU5XA&feature=emb_logo
 
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shin_getter

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One could make just about anything work given sufficient support and resources, the question is whether it is worth it. Apaches could have been sent into Kosovo if enough SEAD and artillery assets gets used to support it.

Missions like standoff missile strikes can be done cheaply and safely with jets, or by even cheaper fixed wing/land-launch/etc means. A force that can not effectively deal with helicopters using standoff weapons have even less chance against jets using standoff as it have both the option of high and low approach, can add energy to munition to increase range, have mobility to outrun weapons and can have lower signature. The same holds for application of air launched drones.

In any case, I think the low approach will increasingly become less efficient for larger aircraft as small UAVs and cruise missile proliferate and increase in capability with a drop in costs, forcing technical and tactical adaption on all sides that also impacts the treatment of low attitude air space. Previously large unobserved, undefended low attitude airspace would either become defended or there'd be adaptation to resist attacks from such vectors. If the enemy could not adapt to low attitude air attacks (air defense is not cheap or easy), he would very likely be defeated, but economically by new UAVs and missiles as opposed to old large platforms independently in close attack.
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From what I've known, attack helicopters have been most successful as close support to ground forces (including allied) with more timely, precise effects than fixed wing. Modern PGM may have narrowed the gap, but the ability of helicopter to pace with land forces means there is a gap in time on target.

Imaginatively thinking about the 2040s, I'm thinking about the following things:

Attack Helicopters would best survive by being parked over friendly C-RAM. The helicopters would be there to provide capability that is not available to ground vehicles or fast aircraft operating. The capabilities I am seeing are:
1. Sensors suited for detect small signature hostiles from Infantry in cover, MAVs, UGVs, unattended ground sensors, on-surface landmines. High flying aerial sensors might even get into trouble when passive ground to air sensors combine with DEW to blind them as both are improving. Friendly MAVs can get closer and is more redundant but likely provides wide area observation capability at higher cost.
2. Anti-MAV weapons: Land forces are limited by horizon can not engage low flying targets. For higher value targets one can use a missile, but for low cost targets an aerial autocannon with air burst, or possibly laser guided air burst should be fairly cost effective.
3. Laser Weapons: The maneuverability of helicopters enables shots that would be impossible for fixed wing or land forces. Lasers are good because of instantaneous, precise, scalable effects that would be useful to neutralize increasingly miniaturized enemies attempting to fight "inside fire control network kill cycle."
 

TomcatViP

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The drawback of most laser system is that they are line-of-sight weapons restricting their usefulness for a low flying carrier airframe.
HPMW gun might prove more useful with their propension to hit through foliage, brick wall and soft skinned vehicles (you don't blast the vehicle alerting enemy forces of your strike but just blast-off the stomach, liver or kidneys of their occupants*) ....

*Not really pretty but since everybody in Genneve stay moot on this, that's the grim reality where we are heading.
 
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yasotay

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@shin_getter - A good argument. However, having insight into Kosovo there were several other issues that precluded Apache operations. The administration at the time was very much into zero casualties (painless war), the Air Component Commander was in charge of all operations and had little understanding of attack helicopter operations to be mild, compounded by the instructions from the Commander in Chief. Finally the shortcoming of training of the Apache crews for the environment (alpine/high altitude) was made apparent from two crashes. There were a number of causal factors involved that led to the decision. Again it was the perennial argument of helicopters viability. Finally your argument rest on a sample size of one. If you could indicate to me the numerous other cases where attack helicopter operations were stood down due to he threat I would be interested in hearing of them.
I would agree with you that cruise missiles and some fixed wing (A-29, T-6) are cheaper but would take issue that they are more survivable against a threat designed specifically for cruise missiles. The reason cruise missiles use terrain masking is to hide from radars, just like helicopters. As mentioned previously radars to date are unable to see through granite and most are hampered by clutter created by trees and urban areas. As mentioned there are likely to be just as many things hunting radars as there are radars. From what I take to be your position on the shear volume of air defenses and unmanned things, I think this situation only occurs at the very beginning of major combat. Air defenses are not singularly focused on dealing with helicopters, especially as helicopters are not typically trying to kill critical nodal targets deep in the defended territory. They might not even be the priority of the air defense command. Air defenses do not just blast anything and everything that shows up on the radar for the reason I mentioned above that you did not counter: LOGISTICS. There are a finite number of missiles, cannon rounds, and fuel. Rearming a air defense system is a very time consuming effort, even for a well trained crew. So air defense commanders have to be very particular with how they expend their ammunition. C-RAM is usually an air defense system, optimized to deal with ballistics threats at critical locations (as mentioned above), they are not found forward in numbers. Even the tactical C-RAM is focused on point protection and are not numerous. C-RAM is also a line of sight weapon, its radar does not see through trees, building or mountains. There is also of course the curvature of the earth. There is a mathematical equation I have forgotten that tells you how far you can see at distances above the ground.
Sensors are always improving to be sure and will certainly increase the challenge for ALL flying things, but then the sensors on the flying things are always improving as well. Recent changes to the Apache Longbow have likely taken into account that potential competent combatants have investing in small unmanned systems. I do agree with you that as sensors improve dealing with small flying threats would be best dealt with by sensor guided proximity fused auto-cannon. I suspect this capability is either possible or soon will be possible for those countries that produce high end attack helicopters.
Directed energy (DE) is likely to be the next Maxim gun, across the spectrum of military operations. DE is far more deadly to optics and sensor components, than physically burning something out of the air. So while any modern tank is not likely to be blown up by DE it can be blinded, which makes it almost useless. DE remains sensitive equipment, that does not do well with rough movements and typical soldier maintenance, both of which are normal in any military operation. This of course will likely change as time goes on, but I do think DE weapon systems are still a few decades from full tactical viability. There is also DE that is rapidly being developed to counter UAV by interrupting the signals internal to the vehicle or to break lock with whomever is controlling/receiving data from said UAV. Since there is no one to manually maintain flight operations of the flying thing, they tend to use whatever the last command was which rapidly ends up on the ground or an automatic "return to launch point". There is no free lunch. These weapons are proliferating rapidly.

All of this said though, I do agree with you in that at some point attack helicopters as we know them will be much less useful in major combat operations (at least until all the robots kill each other off in the first 3.25 seconds of the war), and are likely to become very fast artillery flying to points to launch longer ranged small cruise missiles or loitering munitions and then retiring. However since major combat operations are a very high stakes, phenomenally expensive, poker games that most do not want to play I think that most military operations are likely to be foisted on the poorer people of the world, who cannot afford high end. Of course it is more likely to be like Yemen than Somalia. Here attack "rotor-craft" will still likely be around to support the poor bloody infantry.
 
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fredymac

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Another Bell ad focusing on manufacturing cost reduction. Hopefully this will actually show up in the price tag. So far I haven't seen a "hard" unit price number for any of proposals.


 

yasotay

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Another Bell ad focusing on manufacturing cost reduction. Hopefully this will actually show up in the price tag. So far I haven't seen a "hard" unit price number for any of proposals.
That is because the Army has yet to give the vendors the final requirements.

That said, Bell sure looks like it is going "all in" on these programs.
 

ADVANCEDBOY

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I see Bell has changed their Nexus 6 rotor concept to a 4 rotor one. Nice move, 6 rotors seemed like a design overkill.
 

Moose

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I see Bell has changed their Nexus 6 rotor concept to a 4 rotor one. Nice move, 6 rotors seemed like a design overkill.
Its a bit less clear cut than that, their latest comments on it indicated that the 6-rotor version still exists as the "VTOL Uber" concept of Nexus, but the 4-rotor design is intended to be more of an Inter urban transport.
 

AeroFranz

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Depends on how they justify dealing with component failures.
There is no recovery from losing an entire duct in hover if you only have four (even if you had sufficient extra thrust, there is no way to balance the moments). With six it's possible. Then you get to the extreme of Volocopter, where if you lose one out of 18 rotors, you hardly notice it.
 

TomcatViP

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Why would it have to survive such critical failure? Any VTOL machine that loose a rotor would crash anyway.
Redundancy is for engines with cross-shafting or duplication. Not for the rotors.
 

ADVANCEDBOY

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Any of 4 rotors going bad can be counterbalanced by switching the across rotor off. This will stabilize the craft for emergency landing.
 

yasotay

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Thrust to weight and axis control (yaw) with only two ducted fans might be a challenge, especially if you have to maneuver. Might be better to have a safety parachute and hope for the best,
 

dan_inbox

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Note that if one fan out of four is out, you can use the opposite one either at zero, but also slightly opositive or slightly negative (reverse pitch) to maintain balance as needed.
It does not address total lift, but it does solve axis control.
 

Sundog

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Any of 4 rotors going bad can be counterbalanced by switching the across rotor off. This will stabilize the craft for emergency landing.
Only if all four rotors are on the same axis as the center of mass. If not, turning off the rotor across from the one that failed will just make the vehicle tumble faster.
 

TomcatViP

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The duct fan are articulated. As stated by @ADVANCEDBOY the plane will go down slower than if pulled only by gravity (a sensible result in such situation) with the CG aligning itself with the thrust vector of both fans left turning (assuming only a pitch articulation of thrust - if the craft has some degree of yaw and roll thrust articulation with for example frangible bearing, three fans left turning would work also).

IMOHO this should be mandatory.
 

AeroFranz

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Urban air mobility vehicles are being held at higher standards of safety than helicopters. That's because there will be (supposedly) literally thousands of trips a day over urban sprawls (compare to the relatively few helicopter flights). If you kept the same reliability figure as a helicopter, you'd end up with something which would quickly kill the business.

Chris Van Buiten, vice president of Sikorsky Innovations noted that the S-92 was, in his words, the safest helicopter in the world, with flight critical components designed for only one failure per billion flight hours; this integrates to one aircraft loss per million flight hours. Even this level of safety, however, will not be sufficient for the types of widespread societal penetration expected by electric VTOL proponents: if 50,000 aircraft are each flying 3,000 hours per year — as has been suggested by several studies — that would result in 150 accidents per year. At least an order of magnitude improvement is needed, the Sikorsky executive asserted
source

If anything breaks down in a helicopter drivetrain, they can always autorotate (provided they're not in the dead man's zone). The rotor blades themselves are large, heavy, and likely to withstand in-flight impacts.
Contrast this to eVTOLs. The small rotors hardly store any inertia, so they're unlikely to autorotate. Because the rotors are smaller, they're also thinner, and less able to withstand collisions.

As far as i can tell, all the concepts shown so far are designed to withstand a total rotor failure (be it in the blades themselves, the electric motor or the controller). Even the concepts that only have four lift posts either have two motors and rotors per post (like eHang or city Airbus), or a single motor with redundant windings and controllers.
 

yasotay

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The only thing still 100% accurate on those slides is the little blue banner at the bottom of the first slide. These slides are pre-COVID.
 
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