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

TomcatViP

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Thanks for clarifying that.

But let's be honest, those days are difficult times for them, with the war in Ukraine and the way the concept of a ground offensive is being redefined or, at least, altered.
 

yasotay

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Thanks for clarifying that.

But let's be honest, those days are difficult times for them, with the war in Ukraine and the way the concept of a ground offensive is being redefined or, at least, altered.
One has to be careful in drawing conclusions without a clear understanding of what has occurred. Each conflict has to be seen as a discreet environment. No doubt armor and aircraft will be questioned (rightfully so), just as they were after the 1973 Arab/Israeli war. Twitter and YouTube experts for the most part do not have access to all of the data. A surprising level of poor operational technique does not make the analysis any easier.
 

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I completely agree with that but Russian inability to fly across manpad country while keeping losses at a less than dramatic rate proves one thing:
- NoE without a powerful countermeasures such as an high tech dircim or a laser is suicidal in term of tactical objectives
- Laser being a power sensitive item and high electric power being an engine related variable, the more efficient the cruise flight, the more survivable the platform

Hence drawing high power from your engine just to fly a bit closer to the tree top might be the new way to be survivable with extra layer of thick steel plates at the age of oceans ruled by aircraft carriers.

:rolleyes:
 
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Ainen

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I completely agree with that but Russian inability to fly across manpad country while keeping losses at a less than dramatic rate proves one thing:
- NoE without a powerful countermeasures such as an high tech dircim or a laser is suicidal in term of tactical objectives
- Laser being a power sensitive item and high electric power being an engine related variable, the more efficient the cruise flight, the more survivable the platform
So you have a way of knowing what exact degree of Russian losses were to manpads?
 

yasotay

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US Army faces key decisions to advance future vertical lift aircraft programs / Defense News

The Army is nearing critical points on its path to fielding two Future Vertical Lift (FVL) aircraft, according to Army officials in charge of the efforts. The service plans to field both a Future Long Range Assault Aircraft (FLRAA) and a Future Attack Reconnaissance Aircraft (FARA) by 2030. The Army is expected to choose this summer one company to build FLRAA; prototypes are due to the service by 2025.

And the service has overcome some minor delays assembling its first next-generation engine that will not only upgrade current attack and utility helicopters but will also power FARA. Two industry teams are building prototypes now and waiting to receive those new engines to next year compete those aircraft in a fly-off.

Bell and a Sikorsky-Boeing team have been locked in the competition to build FLRAA for several years. Bell's offering is the V-280 Valor tiltrotor and the Sikorsky-Boeing team's is the Defiant X coaxial aircraft - two very different airframe designs. Congress has continued to support the FLRAA program with budget increases over the past several years to help drive down risk as the program enters
the critical technology development phase.

In the fiscal 2022 omnibus spending bill enacted earlier this month, Congress boosted the program by $77.5 million. "I see this add from Congress as another opportunity for us to continue to reduce risk and make sure that as we enter the program of record, that we fully understand the program's cost, performance, schedule and capabilities," Brig. Gen. Rob Barrie, the program executive officer for Army
aviation, told Defense News in a March 11 interview.

Both FLRAA demonstrator aircraft have several years and many hours of test flights under their belts as the Army heads into the next phase. The service expects to complete preliminary design reviews for FLRAA in the late spring or early summer, Barrie said.

The service awarded two contracts to build prototypes for a competitive fly-off for the FARA program in 2020. Bell is building the 360 Invictus, while Lockheed Martin's Sikorsky is offering up the Raider X, also a coaxial helicopter. Both aircraft are roughly 80% assembled, Barrie noted.

The aircraft both require the Army's Improved Turbine Engine Program (ITEP) engine. Despite delays on the engine last year due to coronavirus pandemic-related supply chain issues, Barrie said it is now assembled. "We are anticipating this month to have the first engine fired off," Barrie said, "and that will begin a process of developmental testing of the engine." The Army is planning to deliver ITEP engines to the two FARA competitors in
November, Barrie said.

"Do we still see a path to fly in '23? The answer is yes," Barrie said.

"There's risk to that, but, yes, our objective remains to fly in '23."

The Army provided each competitor with a 3D printed version of the ITEP engine to help reduce risk when the actual engine arrives, Barrie noted.

All eyes are on the service as it attempts to modernize, particularly given its failures in recent decades to procure new helicopters.

But Army leaders are offering the program their full support. Army Chief of Staff Gen. James McConville has continued in recent speaking engagements this month to reiterate what he sees as a clear need for these two future aircraft programs.

"We believe that we need a Future Attack Reconnaissance Aircraft," McConville said at the McAleese and Associates defense conference in Washington earlier this month. "It's going to take some time to do and we're going through the acquisition and development process to [make it] happen, we are committed to making that happen. Same thing with the Future Long Range Assault Aircraft," he added.

"The Army has indicated programmatically a strong support for both programs and there's a recognition that these capabilities will add significantly to the Army's future ability to fight and win," Barrie said. "We are executing and we're excited about the capability that both of these programs can provide the Army."

The current fleet can't support an open system architecture to enable artificial intelligence capability, manned-unmanned teaming or more capable weapon systems like the Modular Effects Launcher, which will host a variety of lethal and non-lethal options like electronic warfare pods, Maj. Gen. Wally Rugen, who is in charge of Army future vertical lift efforts, said in the same interview.

"When you talk about how we're bringing the network, we're bringing strategic operational and tactical standoff that then allows you to strike from relative sanctuary disaggregated from ship ports and airports from the lower tier of the air domain," Rugen said. That's something the Army "has always wanted to achieve but really lost. That is resonating."
 

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‘A recipe for the parts’: Bell plans factory of the future with FARA, FLRAA dreams​

Breaking Defense goes inside Bell's planned futuristic factory near Fort Worth and its Amarillo assembly facility, as the company bets big on FARA and FLRAA wins.​

By Andrew Eversden on April 04, 2022 at 5:15 AM

2022 Bell 360 Build Update Approved

The Bell 360 Invictus sits at the company’s assembly center in Amarillo, Texas. (Courtesy of Bell)

[...]In the shadows of a major highway interchange a few miles from downtown Fort Worth, Bell Textron is developing its factory of the future, experimenting with bleeding-edge manufacturing technologies that the company hopes could drastically improve the company’s assembly processes for the Army’s next generation of assault and recon helicopters — if it wins those highly sought-after contracts.

The 140,000-square-foot facility, dubbed the Manufacturing Technology Center, is already filled with the whirring of machines grinding out helicopter parts and the incessant beeping of construction equipment preparing space for more gear. The end goal is to reduce the time it takes to manufacture helicopter parts using a smaller series of digitally connected machines from initial fabrication through quality assurance[...]

It’s all part of the company’s plan to have its manufacturing processes in prime position if it wins the Army’s Future Long-Range Assault Aircraft (FLRAA) contract this summer, in which it’s competing against a team from Sikorsky-Boeing. Bell is also competing against Sikorsky for the Future Attack Reconnaissance Aircraft (FARA), the service’s future scout helicopter, which won’t be awarded until next year...
 

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U.S. Army's Future Recon Helicopter Delayed By GE Engine Development
/ Aviation Week
DATE: April 1, 2022
BYLINE: Brian Everstine

The U.S. Army is increasing its funding requests for the Future Vertical
Lift program as the government-mandated engine for one of the helicopters
has slowed progress on the Future Attack Reconnaissance Aircraft ahead of
first flights next year.
In the fiscal 2023 budget request released in late March, the Army called
for $468.7 million for the Future Attack Reconnaissance Aircraft (FARA) to
replace its Boeing AH-64 Apache, and $693.6 million for the Future-Long
Range Assault Aircraft (FLRAA) as part of an overall request of $1.5 billion
for Future Vertical Lift (FVL). The remaining $369.7 million will go toward
technology development, advance munitions and a future unmanned aircraft
system. The funding will go for hardware and software development, assembly
of component subsystems and government-furnished equipment planning and
development of the Modular Open Systems Architecture-an approach to updating
the aircraft's systems and armaments from any manufacturer.
The Army is planning a flight demonstration from the two competitors in the
fourth quarter of fiscal 2023. The entrants-Bell and Sikorsky-are working
briskly toward that goal, but the government-required engine is slowing them
down.
The service is requiring that the FARA winner be powered with the GE
Aviation T901 engine, developed under the Improved Turbine Engine Program
(ITEP) contest. However, after a protest by the Honeywell/Pratt & Whitney
team, followed by issues caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, delivery of the
engine has slowed and forced the companies to push back their schedules for
first flight.
Army Undersecretary Gabe Camarillo says the service is planning to make the
same milestones for competition, though in the 2023 budget request it needed
to "realign" funding from procurement to development and shift scheduled
spending to account for ITEP delays.
"You'll see these kinds of puts and takes . . . fact-of-life changes within
the current budget submission," he says.
Bell is more than 85% complete in assembling its FARA entrant, the Model 360
Invictus. Chris Gehler, Bell vice president and FARA program director, says
the company was hoping for delivery of the engine earlier in 2022 so that it
could start ground runs in late spring or early summer in anticipation of
flights by year-end. Bell now expects the flights to be in late fiscal 2023.
Because of the delay, Bell is taking more time to work through its build and
develop the second helicopter, assembly of which is expected to be completed
in early 2023, Gehler says. This follow-on aircraft, called Increment 1,
would be outfitted with Army mission systems. As an example of this extended
work, Bell is looking at ways to reduce the aircraft's weight, which in turn
could provide better performance for Army operators. Specifically, the
company is looking at a redesign of the helicopter's landing gear for
Increment 1 as an initial step to cut weight.
During Aviation Week's recent visit to Bell's Amarillo, Texas, facility, the
company outlined the specific progress on the first aircraft. It recently
finished stress testing, and some components such as the forward fuselage
and the open-tail rotor are fully assembled. The company expects assembly to
be held at just more than 90% complete until the ITEP engine is ready. In
addition to the T901, the 360 also uses a supplemental power unit based on
Pratt & Whitney Canada's PW207D1 turboshaft.
Bell expects the FARA program to start with eight aircraft under
engineering, manufacturing and development, with 8-16 aircraft in each early
production lot and a ramp-up to 24-48 aircraft for later production lots.
The Model 360 Invictus is produced at the same assembly center as the
company's V-22 tiltrotor, UH-1Y and AH-1Z helicopters, and the company says
it has the capacity to ramp up for both FVL aircraft if it receives the
contracts.
Sikorsky says its Raider X prototype for FARA is also more than 85%
complete, and it recently conducted its first landing gear retraction tests
as it awaits the ITEP engine.
"We're nearly complete on the build for that aircraft and are waiting for
the ITEP engine, to get that in and install that," Sikorsky President Paul
Lemmo says. "Then [we will] go flying that aircraft, hopefully later next
year."
GE Aviation has delivered the first T901 to the Army for testing, and the
service on March 22 conducted the first "light-off" test, during which fuel
was ignited to produce power. The Army expects the engine to complete more
than 100 hr. of run time over two months, with more than 700 sensors
tracking its performance data.
Over the summer, the Army will test against Army Military Airworthiness
Certification Criteria standards with more than 1,500 hr. of full-scale
ground testing for the engine to achieve a Preliminary Flight Rating and
about 5,000 hr. for full engine qualification. The 3,000-shp ITEP engine
will also replace the powerplants in the Boeing AH-64 and Sikorsky UH-60s,
in addition to the FARA aircraft.
If there is a severe delay in ITEP development, both Bell and Sikorsky
expect to use the 2,000-shp T701 engine for the prototype fly-off, though
the T901 will still be used in the eventual FARA winning aircraft. In the
meantime, the companies have fit-checked a mockup of the T901 in their
helicopters.
GE says it is working closely with the Army to deliver the first flight-test
engines late this year for the competitors' aircraft.
For the FLRAA, the planned replacement for the UH-60, the Army is requesting
$693.6 million in funding for fiscal 2023. This would go toward completing
preliminary design efforts, weapon system and virtual prototyping, and
weapon system development contract options later this year. Additionally,
the Army is doing preliminary analysis of how the FLRAA would also support
additional utility missions for medical evacuation and special operations,
says Brig. Gen. Michael McCurry, director of force development in the office
of the Army deputy chief of staff for programs.
For the FLRAA competition, Bell is offering the tiltrotor V-280 Valor, and
the team of Sikorsky and Boeing is offering the coaxial Defiant X.
In February, the Sikorsky/Boeing team announced it had selected Honeywell's
HTS7500 turboshaft engine to power the Defiant X. In January, the Defiant
prototype, the SB-1 Defiant, flew its first mission profile test flight,
during which the aircraft flew low-level operations and landings in a
confined area.
"We fully demonstrated Defiant's ability to execute the FLRAA mission
profile by flying 236 kt. in level flight, then reducing thrust on the
propulsor to rapidly decelerate as we approached the confined, and
unimproved, landing zone," Bill Fell, Defiant chief flight test pilot at
Sikorsky, said in an announcement.
Bell's V-280 completed more than 215 flight hours before ending its
prototype test flights last year.
The Army expects to select a FLRAA winner this year, with FARA to follow
after a fly-off in 2023, ahead of fielding in 2030. Army officials say they
expect costs for each program to rise as selections are made and the winners
move into development and testing.
"As you get into sort of the midterm period, the costs for those programs
get pretty big," Army Secretary Christine Wormuth said March 9. "So I think
what we're going to have to do again is see what we learn technically over
the next of couple years as we go to the prototypes and do flight tests . .
. and then continuously evaluate and assess how we're going to balance,
because the bills do get big for those programs in the out years."
To meet these cost requirements, the Army expects to continue to
"ruthlessly" modernize by cutting more of its older aircraft and other
systems. At the same time, Congress has shown a willingness to continue to
raise the Pentagon's top line by adding funding for the 2022 budget, and
many lawmakers are already saying the administration's 2023 request of $773
billion is not enough.
"At this point, I feel pretty comfortable that we're going to be able to
maintain our momentum with modernization," Wormuth says.
Army Chief of Staff Gen. James McConville noted that doing FARA and FLRAA at
the same time will take much effort and time. "And we're going through the
acquisition and the development process. We're committed to making that
happen," he added.
The Army is also looking for international support. In February, Maj. Gen.
Walter Rugen, Army Futures Command's FVL Cross-Functional Team director,
signed an agreement with Maj. Gen. James Bowder, the British Army's director
of futures, to share information about rotorcraft requirements and programs.
The agreement specifically calls on the two services to find ways to reduce
helicopter cost, schedule and performance risk as well as increase
integration and cooperation in testing, sustainment and follow-on
development. It also specifically states that the UK will cooperate in
future phases of the FVL program.
"As you would expect, the British Army has an extremely close and productive
relationship with the U.S. Army," Bowder said in an announcement. "Together
we are stronger. Our deep science and technology collaboration is an
important element of this and makes us both more competitive. Today's
agreement formalizes our cooperation to help determine the future direction
of aviation in competition and conflict.
 

yasotay

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Sikorsky's Raider X Prototype For FARA Over 85% Complete, Also Built
Second Fuselage / Defense Daily
DATE: April 4, 2022
BYLINE: Matthew Beinart

Sikorsky's [LMT] build of its Raider X helicopter for the Army's Future
Attack Reconnaissance Aircraft (FARA) competitive prototyping (CP) effort is
now over 85 percent complete, with the company also having completed the
build of a second fuselage.
"We're really proud of the progress. We're now at 'weight on wheels,' where
we have the landing gear on the aircraft. We completed landing gear swings,
both deploy and retract with the gear doors installed," Jay Macklin,
Sikorsky's director of Army Future Vertical Lift and innovations strategy
and business development, told reporters at Army Aviation Association of
America annual conference here. "We've also begun powering the aircraft. We
have power on. We're approaching the midpoint of system acceptance test
procedure completion on the aircraft."
Macklin said Sikorsky's Raider X schedule remains on the path to meet the
Army's goal for first FARA CP flight in the third quarter of 2023.
For FARA, the Army has selected Sikorsky's Raider X and Bell's [TXT] 360
Invictus designs for the competitive prototyping phase as it informs its
program to field a new scout attack helicopter.
Bell told reporters last month its build of the 360 Invictus for FARA CP was
also over 80 percent complete, and that the build structure of the
helicopter minus the ITEP engine is expected to be completed around the May
timeframe (Defense Daily, March 17).
Both Bell and Sikorsky are set to receive the General Electric Aviation
[GE]-built T901 engine in November, with testing of the first ITEP system
starting last month (Defense Daily, March 24).
Sikorsky noted the second Raider X fuselage, which was also built at
Sikorsky's Development Flight Center in West Palm Beach, Florida, is being
integrated into its FARA CP structural test program "and will be used to
validate the flight and ground loads capability of the airframe," the
company wrote in a statement.
Macklin added Sikorsky could explore continuing to build out the second
fuselage into a full-on aircraft, while citing the benefits the additional
asset provides for further testing purposes and risk reduction work.
"In other words, we don't have to use just the CP. We've got a second
fuselage where we can do that testing. That's really going to support our
flight and safety test program for the competitive prototype and provide
data that feeds information as we build the CP that's going to fly. It's
another tool that we have to reduce risk," Macklin said. "It also gives us
an option to build it out as a second CP aircraft flying, if we choose to.
It gives us that much more flexibility before we make those decisions as we
go forward."
 

yasotay

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Not alot new, but some interesting bits.
 

yasotay

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Good article with some of the key considerations for the FLRAA program.

Sikorsky-Boeing and Bell compare dueling FLRAA proposals as Army nears decision

(Inside Defense, Apr. 13, Evan Ochsner)
The Army is drawing closer to choosing the aircraft that will replace perhaps its most iconic helicopter: the Black Hawk.
In its Future Long-Range Assault Aircraft, the Army is seeking an aircraft that can fly farther, faster, and carry more weight than the Black Hawk.
With a decision expected this summer, the two competitors -- Bell and a joint proposal from Sikorsky and Boeing -- have worked to make their cases to Army officials that their proposal is the right one.
Sikorsky and Boeing late last month flew their technology demonstrator to the Army Aviation Association of America convention, and Bell has worked to impress upon Army officials its ability to manufacture the FLRAA aircraft and the Future Attack Reconnaissance Aircraft, the other Future Vertical Lift modernization priority.
Sikorsky and Boeing have presented their proposal as a high-tech but natural successor to the Black Hawk, the companies’ coaxial technology, dubbed X2, eliminating the need for a tail rotor. Defiant X would be able to take advantage of many of the existing facilities used by the Black Hawk, Sikorsky and Boeing say.
Bell presents its proposal, the V-280, as an important evolution of vertical lift capabilities. The company’s design is a tiltrotor, allowing it to fly faster and farther than any traditional helicopter and leading what is perhaps the next phase of vertical lift capability.
Neither company has said publicly how much their proposal will cost in procurement or over its lifecycle, citing the ongoing competition. But both sides have said they have gone to significant lengths to limit the complexity of the aircraft in order to drive down costs.
Keith Flail, Bell’s executive vice president for advanced vertical lift systems, said he was confident Bell’s proposal would be cheaper than Sikorsky-Boeing's
“We are absolutely going to be way less expensive, way lighter weight,” Flail told Inside Defense during a tour of Bell’s manufacturing facilities late last month.
Flail said the V-280 is simpler than the Defiant, which he said has more propellers and a more complex gear box.
Sikorsky President Paul Lemmo has said the company has learned from the Black Hawk and other projects to simplify its FLRAA proposal.
“While there may be a perception that it’s a little more complex because it’s got dual rotors, etcetera, when you look under the hood -- because this is again the third iteration of X2 technology -- we were able to simplify the parts count tremendously,” he said.
He wouldn’t say, however, if Defiant would come in at a lower price than the Bell proposal.
“We’re confident we’re giving them a very affordable price,” Lemmo told reporters late last month. “I don’t know what our competition is priced, so we can’t compare that.”
Sikorsky representatives have consistently emphasized their belief that Defiant’s similarity to the Black Hawk will drive down costs over the long run thanks to its compatibility with existing Army facilities and practices.
Bell has recently sought to impress upon officials its expanded manufacturing capabilities that it says will enable it to make the Defiant on day one, while Sikorsky and Boeing point to their decades-long track record in producing helicopters for the Army.
“We think this aircraft will be affordable to build, and particularly affordable from a lifecycle perspective,” Lemmo said.
Either option would provide the Army with a technology it has never before used in a significant capacity. Both companies say their technologies -- Bell's tiltrotor and Sikorsky’s coaxial design -- have proven their maturity, but neither has been used before by the Army.
X2 features two rotors on top of the helicopter that spin in opposite directions, eliminating the need for a tail rotor. In its place, the companies are installing a tail prop the helicopter can fly without, but which provides additional speed and improved acceleration and deceleration.
“For the assault mission, this is the right technology, this is the right aircraft to meet all of the Army’s needs in any theater,” said Mark Cherry, Boeing’s vice president and general manager of vertical lift.
And although the technology has not been adopted before by the U.S. military, officials on the Sikorsky-Boeing team say they are confident in its record of development.
“We’ve been flying X2 aircraft since 2008,” Sikorsky’s Lemmo said. “So, if there’s any question about the maturity of this, we’re already on what I would consider the third generation of X2 with Defiant.”
But Bell says the military has been flying its tiltrotors for many years, and that gives them an edge.
The company, alongside Boeing, has provided the V-22 Osprey tiltrotor to the Marines since 2007, though the program began in the 1980s. Bell’s representatives say this history has allowed the company to learn a great deal about the capabilities of the technology over the long term.
“It’s very well accepted across the Air Force special operations command, Marine Corps and the Navy,“ Flail said of tiltrotor technology. “The Army’s the last ones that don’t have it.”
That experience has allowed the company to advance the technology and have more confidence in its maturity, Flail said. The V-280’s engines, for example, do not rotate along with its rotors when transitioning between horizontal and vertical flight. On a V-22, the engine rotates along with the rotors.
“The tiltrotor system on the Valor is significantly evolved,” said J.J. Gertler, a longtime military aviation analyst for the Congressional Research Service now with the Teal Group. “Very different than what's on the V-22.”
And while Bell says those changes are largely to lower cost and complexity, they also introduce an element of new technology into what Bell is representing as a relatively well-known commodity, Gertler said.
There are some missions, as well, for which a tiltrotor would not work, Gertler said, pointing to the Coast Guard’s space limitations. But he said, “for most applications there’s no reason not to use a tiltrotor.”
Both Bell and Sikorsky-Boeing designed their aircraft to carry 12 soldiers, the number specified by the Army, but the aircraft have different seating arrangements. In Defiant, soldiers face both front and back in an “optimized cabin outfitted for troops, medevac and cargo delivery,” said Heather McBryan, Boeing’s director of business development for future vertical lift programs.
“Troops will enter, ride and exit Defiant X the same proven way they do in the Black Hawk today,” McBryan said in an email through a spokeswoman.
But in the V280, soldiers will sit sideways, facing large doors on both sides of the aircraft, which Bell says will enhance the assault capabilities of the aircraft by enabling soldiers to enter and exit the aircraft faster.
Bell has received a large amount of positive feedback on that from soldiers, Flail said.
“The quicker you can get on the ground, get them out and get back out again, its huge in terms of surprise and survivability,” he said.
Whether the difference in seating will make a difference in the contract decision is another matter, Gertler said, and it will depend on if operators are given a strong voice in the selection process. “The question is if the operator community has strong views about that,” he said.
 

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Why Defiant X. Defiant X, the joint Sikorsky and Boeing entry for the Army’s Future Long-Range Assault Aircraft (FLRRA), possesses the key advantage over its competitor for the upcoming contract because it is more maneuverable when it comes to getting into and out of a tight landing zone, James Taiclet, Lockheed Martin’s chairman, president and CEO, said during the company’s first quarter earnings call last week. Ron Epstein, an aerospace and defense analyst with Bank of America Merrill Lynch, on the call said, “in the investment community it seems like there’s an assumption” that Textron’s Bell will win both of the Army’s Future Vertical Lift competitions, which includes FLRAA and the Future Attack Reconnaissance Aircraft, and asked why Lockheed Martin’s Sikorsky could win. Taiclet answered that versus a tiltrotor aircraft, which is what Bell has offered for FLRAA, the dual-rotor design of the Defiant X “is head and shoulders above anything you could ever do with a tiltrotor.” Getting to the target area “two minutes faster, is irrelevant,” he said, “versus when you get to the target are you going to survive and live through that mission? And that’s the differential.”

Two minutes faster? The speed delta between these two platforms is, at the very minimum, ~60 knots. Is the Army planning on only flying missions less than 5 miles?

And again, the incessant ranting about Defiant's "agility at the objective" has still, 3 years later, not even remotely been demonstrated (not to mention S-97 and its 7 year flight testing showing exactly the same bupkis). Why doesn't anyone, be it investors or journalists, directly confront Sikorsky on this?
 

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“in the investment community it seems like there’s an assumption” that Textron’s Bell will win both of the Army’s Future Vertical Lift competitions, which includes FLRAA and the Future Attack Reconnaissance Aircraft,..."

This is the key take away from the article. Lot's of intel behind financial analysis.
 

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I see a lot about the V-280 that makes me think it will be the winner of FLRAA but I'm not seeing what Bell's FARA offer has that is so appealing versus the Raider-X. Lower cost I am sure but ideally you want UAVs to be taking the losses incurred instead of the manned aircraft.

Despite how capable the selected FLRAA design will be I can't help but think that the higher cost will be forcing the Army to keep the UH-60 around and presumably in production for a long time to come.
 

yasotay

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I see a lot about the V-280 that makes me think it will be the winner of FLRAA but I'm not seeing what Bell's FARA offer has that is so appealing versus the Raider-X. Lower cost I am sure but ideally you want UAVs to be taking the losses incurred instead of the manned aircraft.

Despite how capable the selected FLRAA design will be I can't help but think that the higher cost will be forcing the Army to keep the UH-60 around and presumably in production for a long time to come.
Certainly UH-60 will be in the Army for decades to come. There will likely be at least one more significant upgrade to the platform. I think you will see the H-60 production line go to a method like that of the Apache, where they remanufacture the airframes to rebuild them and include new equipment. The MOSA architecture will likely be put into both the Blackhawk and the Apache. Like the Huey before it, allied countries on a budget will get UH-60 as the FLRAA replaces it in the US inventory.
I would not be surprised to see the Raider X get the FARA decision, because it has a flying demonstrator already. I would like to see those who have taken risks get rewarded for their efforts. Then again that is likely a very small consideration for those who have to write the checks.
 

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Meanwhile the competition (Textron) CEO was a bit more optimistic...

Army FVL programs on pace in FY-22 and FY-23 budgets, Textron executive says / Inside Defense

DATE: April 28, 2022

BYLINE: Evan Oschner

The Army's Fiscal Year 2022 budget provided funding for programs Textron is involved with at similar levels to what the company expected, Textron's CEO said Thursday, although he suggested the Army's FY-23 request was lacking in some areas.
Army budget requests for its Future Vertical Lift priorities in FY-22 and FY-23 were on par with what Textron expected, CEO Scott Donnelly said during a company earnings call. Textron’s Bell is competing to win contracts for the Army’s Future Attack Reconnaissance Aircraft and Future Long-Range Assault Aircraft.
“In the Army and things around FARA and FLRAA, it looks like those are being funded as we would have expected,” Donnelly said.
The Army in its FY-23 budget request asked for $468.7 million for the FARA program, according to an Army spokeswoman and budget documents. It is requesting $483.4 million in Middle Tier of Acquisition funding for FLRAA, budget documents show.
The company is expecting the Army to announce its decision on the FLRAA competition in early July, Donnelly said Thursday. The company’s FARA protype is more than 85% complete.
Bell revenue was down 1% in the first quarter compared to last year, Donnelly said.
Donnelly suggested he was less pleased with the Army’s FY-23 request than he was with the FY-22 numbers. “There’s certainly things that we would like to see have some increased funding, and obviously we’ll work on that between now and getting to an actual appropriated FY-23 budget,” he said.
Textron Systems had lower revenue compared to the first quarter of last year, “primarily reflecting the impact of last year’s withdrawal of the U.S. Army from Afghanistan on our fee-for-service and aircraft support contracts,” Donnelly said.
Textron Systems had $273 million in revenue in the first quarter, $55 million less than it had in the first quarter last year. Its $33 million profit was $18 million less than the year before, Donnelly said.
Donnelly previously told investors the company expected to have lower military revenue this year.
 
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yasotay

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Yet more in the never ending saga of Army Aviation ineptitude, when it comes to acquisition.

U.S. Army Delays FARA Development By Up To Four Years / Aviation Week

DATE: May 4, 2022

BYLINE: Steve Trimble

The U.S. Army has delayed key milestones for the Future Attack Reconnaissance Aircraft (FARA) program by up to four years, budget and solicitation documents show.
The new schedule delays the contract award for the engineering and manufacturing development (EMD) phase of the FARA program by up to 1.5 years to the third quarter of fiscal 2025.
The Army previously expected to end the EMD phase of the FARA program in the fourth quarter of fiscal 2028. But the schedule now stretches the developmental program to the end of the second quarter of fiscal 2032, according to the Army’s long-term justification documents submitted with the fiscal 2023 budget.
The EMD phase schedule changes follow newly disclosed delays for the ongoing competitive prototyping program.
In March 2020, the Army selected the Sikorsky Raider X and the Bell 360 Invictus to build and test prototype aircraft. Flight demonstrations were supposed to begin in the first quarter of fiscal 2023.
The new budget documents show that the flight test phase for the Raider X and the 360 Invictus is not expected to begin until the last three months of fiscal 2023, which implies a delay of 9-12 months.
The prototypes are being used to gather flight data to inform the final requirements for the FARA production aircraft, which will be developed as part of the EMD phase.
The original schedule called for the winner of the EMD contract to deliver the first of eight planned FARA test aircraft by the first quarter of fiscal 2025, which assumed reaching the delivery milestone three to six months after a critical design review.
The new schedule delays the delivery of the first FARA test aircraft by 2.5 years to the first quarter of fiscal 2028, according to an Army sources sought notice for the EMD program, which was published on March 28.
The same notice also revealed the first details of the Army’s plans for production quantities of the FARA aircraft.
The winner of the EMD contract should expect to deliver 44 aircraft during a 36-month period of low-rate initial production, the sources sought notice shows. The FARA manufacturer is then expected to ramp-up to deliver 24 aircraft in the fourth year of production.


How much did engine delays set back the Future Attack Recon Aircraft program? / Defense News

DATE: May 4, 2022

BYLINE: Jen Judson

The flight schedule has slipped by a year for two prototypes competing for the U.S. Army’s Future Attack Reconnaissance Aircraft program, budget justification documents show.
The pandemic had already delayed government testing of the first Improved Turbine Engine Program engine, but the Army was trying to keep its FARA program on track, even though prototypes depend on the integration of that engine to get airborne for a full-year flight test program.
The Army’s fiscal 2023 budget justification books reveal the service planned to fly the two prototypes — from Bell and Lockheed Martin’s Sikorsky – over the course of FY23, but that timeline has slipped. Now, Bell’s 360 Invictus and Sikorsky’s Raider X will fly over the course of FY24, barring any other delays, according to a comparison of the FY23 budget documents and their counterparts from FY22.
The service awarded contracts to the two companies to build the prototypes in 2020. The aircraft are roughly 80% assembled, and the competitors are waiting to integrate the ITEP engine once the first one finishes required testing.
“COVID challenges to GE Aviation’s Improved Turbine Engine (ITE) supplier base negated realization of a 12-month engine development acceleration necessary to support the original FARA need,” an Army spokesperson told Defense News in a statement.
The Army’s fiscal 2023 budget justification books reveal the service planned to fly the two prototypes — from Bell and Lockheed Martin’s Sikorsky – over the course of FY23, but that timeline has slipped. Now,
Bell’s 360 Invictus and Sikorsky’s Raider X will fly over the course of FY24, barring any other delays, according to a comparison of the FY23 budget documents and their counterparts from FY22.
The service awarded contracts to the two companies to build the prototypes in 2020. The aircraft are roughly 80% assembled, and the competitors are waiting to integrate the ITEP engine once the first one finishes required testing.
“COVID challenges to GE Aviation’s Improved Turbine Engine (ITE) supplier base negated realization of a 12-month engine development acceleration necessary to support the original FARA need,” an Army spokesperson told Defense News in a statement.
“The overall ITE program remains on schedule and began first engine testing on March 22, 2022,” the Army noted.
FARA vendors plan to start ITEP integration into their prototypes in November 2022, the service spokesperson said, in order to support flight testing in 2023.
Brig. Gen. Robert Barrie, the Army’s program executive officer for aviation, told Defense News earlier this year that flight testing in 2023 will begin toward the end of that year.
“Do we still see a path to fly in ‘23? The answer is yes,” Barrie said. “There’s risk to that, but, yes, our objective remains to fly in ‘23.”
But with flight testing behind, the Army also must delay when it issues its request for proposals for the engineering and manufacturing development phase, from the third quarter of FY22 to the second quarter of FY23. It will now evaluate those proposals through the first quarter of FY25.
The Army also won’t enter Milestone B — the technology development phase — until the third quarter of FY25, delayed from the first quarter of FY24.
The weapons system capability design review has also moved from the third quarter of FY24 to the fourth quarter of FY26, according to a comparison of FY22 and FY23 budget documents.
“A schedule realignment was necessary to allow [competitive prototype] flight testing to inform the final requirement, the Weapons System Increment 1 activities, and documentation necessary for Milestone B,” the Army spokesperson said.
While the FARA schedule has slipped, funding continues to be solid. According to the FY23 budget books, there were slight funding boosts across the board compared to planned funding laid out in FY21 documents (the last time the Army issued a five-year funding plan).
In FY23, the Army plans to fund the program at $439.9 million, which is roughly $10 million more than it planned to spend in FY23, according to FY21 documentation.
The Army will provide $151.6 million in FY24, which is about $3 million more than planned. Then in FY25, the Army plans to spend roughly $17 million more for a total of $670 million.
Funding then ramps up in FY26 and FY27. The Army has budgeted to spend $769 million in FY26 and $1.1 billion in FY27.
The Army is driving toward fielding two future vertical lift helicopters by 2030. The other aircraft, the future long-range assault aircraft, is further along.
The service is expected to make a contract award to either a Sikorsky-Boeing team or Bell to build the future long-range assault aircraft in the fourth quarter of FY22.
 

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Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has added an extra dimension for the Department of Defense to consider, given the success Ukraine soldiers have had shooting down Russian helicopters. [...]

[president of Sikorsky] Lemmo acknowledged the Pentagon’s assessments could have ramifications for future helicopter designs. He said Defiant-X is designed to be able to hug any landscape at very low altitudes and high speeds, making it far less vulnerable to ground fire.

The exact nature of the information Sikorsky is receiving, or will receive, from the Pentagon about the war in Ukraine remains confidential.

“Obviously, a lot of that I can’t talk to, but what I would say generally is I’m not sure that the Russian helicopters have the kind of systems on them that the U.S. helicopters [have] in terms of self-defense,” Lemmo said Wednesday.

“We’ll look to the Army and other services to give us feedback — what we know is what we’ve seen on TV, so we’ll need to get probably a classified debriefing and really understand. And I’m sure some of that will manifest itself in new requirements.”

 

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Lesson 2 - Make sure your survivability equipment fully functions.
Lesson 3 - fly at night.
Lesson 4 - Don't hover near ATGM teams.
A corollary to Lesson 1: Never stay on the ground more than 30 seconds in an air assault.
It would be nice to have a clue how many sortie Russian helicopters are flying on a regular bases. If they are losing a helicopter for every ten sortie, that is bad. Losing one every one hundred sortie, against a well equipped and TRAINED enemy may be normal in modern war. I suspect that, like many other challenges for the aircrew, they were lucky to get ten hours of training a month, most of which was very prescriptive flights. This makes something like night combat operations impossible for them.
 

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Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has added an extra dimension for the Department of Defense to consider, given the success Ukraine soldiers have had shooting down Russian helicopters. [...]

[president of Sikorsky] Lemmo acknowledged the Pentagon’s assessments could have ramifications for future helicopter designs. He said Defiant-X is designed to be able to hug any landscape at very low altitudes and high speeds, making it far less vulnerable to ground fire.

One truly new element to this war is the availability of top down drone view of (enemy) helicopters in action. This basically means low and fast no longer causes surprise and instead defenders with greater situation awareness can prepare defenses to take advantage of a short snap shot windows.

The availability of good enough thermal sensors and communication electronics from the civilian drones is also illustrative of the technological environment: simply add propulsion and a viable SAM can be made at previously unmatched low costs with full look down shoot down capability. The likes of squad portable Iranian turbojet loitering SAM with imagining seeker really makes low attitude penetration at rotorcraft speeds a pretty bad idea.

Ultimately any ground forces that do not have highly capable SHORAD solution would likely to be rapidly neutralized by modern high volume air attack against a modernized force, which has no technological barrier as even Yemen can field sufficiently capable systems with duel use parts. No formation is too small as even fire teams could suffer a $6k switchblade or even some hobby drone with 40mm grenade. All non-disposable formations must be covered with AA, and helicopters have worst survivability characteristics than many very low end air frames, with additional survivability coming from expensive countermeasures (which can be added to other airframes if the cost benefit works out).

Imagine the kind of AA density that'd be needed to deny opponent forward artillery observation by the opponent that would be needed for security. Alternatively, imagine a formation with so much ISR and firepower that it defeats the opponent in long range precision fire duel, and how often it fail to detect thousands of horse power worth of energy dumped into the air by non-stealth vehicles anywhere near the forward battle area when it deals with camo-ed ground vehicle with best pieces of concealment available deep within enemy lines.

Either force will be the objective force, and neither is vulnerable to helicopters
-----------
Forest Green said:
Lesson 1: Don't land on Snake Island.
Lesson 2 - Make sure your survivability equipment fully functions.
Lesson 3 - fly at night.
Lesson 4 - Don't hover near ATGM teams.
A corollary to Lesson 1: Never stay on the ground more than 30 seconds in an air assault.
It would be nice to have a clue how many sortie Russian helicopters are flying on a regular bases. If they are losing a helicopter for every ten sortie, that is bad. Losing one every one hundred sortie, against a well equipped and TRAINED enemy may be normal in modern war. I suspect that, like many other challenges for the aircrew, they were lucky to get ten hours of training a month, most of which was very prescriptive flights. This makes something like night combat operations impossible for them.

Lesson 1: Non-attritable systems shouldn't land at forward areas exposed to fires. Forward area is soon 70km to 100km for modernized tubes, 150km for normal rockets and 500km+ for near cost parity missiles. There is also the fun thing of look down slant observation from dozens if not hundreds of kilometers away. (see kherson airport for really large number of helicopter losses)
Lesson 2: Decoy systems that result in cool 720p videos for people to ogle over on twitter is a joke against working procurement systems: the anti-sensor strategy isn't working. You see it, it can be killed.
Lesson 3: Fly at night, except against opponent that raids the amazon and get good enough night sensors.
Lesson 4: The idea that one can use terrain to hide against far more stealthy opponents in offensive action is the definition of unreliable. You'd hover to hide behind cover after all, but the damned opponent is somewhere else! Moving into ambush repeatedly is a silly way of war.

Lesson 4A: Pilots with self preservation instinct is now using helicopters as indirect fire rocket artillery. Deep standoff is the only safety if one can not assume strong over match in defensive systems or full information dominance over the battlespace.

--------- Some other ideas:
Lesson 5: stealthy, and far away works better than fast and close. Some very low cost systems make the former work while very expensive systems using the latter gets shot down.
Lesson 6: Air threat is omnipresent even if no one gets air superiority. Instead of no air threat in contested air war, it is both sides using air driven recon strike complexes. Snake island is after all, look down shoot down by the inferior air force.
 
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Don't forget that what we see filmed by drones have either:
- been acquired by shear luck or through intelligence assessment
- being passed coordinates by other electronic sensors

Long range IR/TV feed are narrow beam search items and won't have the necessary situational awareness to survive and complete their missions without the electronic sensing force behind. Starring omni-directional pods are supposedly too expensive to be included on attritable platforms and search pattern are not suitable in a FLOT.

Last but not least, we can now suppose that TB-2 possess some degree of stealth attribute among the following: signature reduction, active electronic or cyber.
 

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Last but not least, we can now suppose that TB-2 possess some degree of stealth attribute among the following: signature reduction, active electronic or cyber.

I'm kind of curious what evidence there is for this. All we know is that they can operate in places we thought should be denied. But that can be as much a failure of Russian air defense than some special characteristic of the TB2.
 

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Lesson 2: Decoy systems that result in cool 720p videos for people to ogle over on twitter is a joke against working procurement systems: the anti-sensor strategy isn't working. You see it, it can be killed.
I'm not certain I follow your logic. The ability to fool a SAM fired at you is always better than the alternative.
 

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I'm kind of curious what evidence there is for this. All we know is that they can operate in places we thought should be denied. But that can be as much a failure of Russian air defense than some special characteristic of the TB2.

I have a hard time thinking that all those close-in kills are just plain incompetence from Russians to defend themselves. But we are OT.
 

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For drone videos of manpad shoot downs, the helicopters are very much within visual range of ground forces. The difference is that a drone can track the helicopter and coordinate defenses if communications have been worked out.

The odds of a helicopter getting acquired by a drone is a function of drone sensor capacity, drone density and communication with other sensors. The fact that videos exist shows that even without automatic networked communications or standardized high density drone deployments and reliable top cover, getting a track does happen often enough. In any case Russian helicopters have adapted standoff tactics to prevent losses.

Having dense sensors to cover most of the front is also quite useful and effective when linked with artillery and other long range strike thus it ought to only increase. One can only imagine if Micro Air Vehicles can manage to network with something like NASAM.
---------
As for MALE drones and long range EO, I think a good radar warning receiver can do quite a bit of heavy lifting. There are a good number of TB2 videos of it striking non-active AA systems over the past few years. The loiter time means it can stalk of out range until system downtime.

Soda straw sensors is fine when the opponent is stuck using the very same sensors to find you.

Lesson 2: Decoy systems that result in cool 720p videos for people to ogle over on twitter is a joke against working procurement systems: the anti-sensor strategy isn't working. You see it, it can be killed.
I'm not certain I follow your logic. The ability to fool a SAM fired at you is always better than the alternative.
I'm saying it aint fooling the guys behind the screen, which is to say it only works on sensors generations behind civilian tech.

With modern EO sensors, a proper close range soft kill defense system would need to make the vehicle difficult to actually see on top of effects in other sensor bands.
 
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Red the last six pages of that thread and boy, it has been a wild and fun ride. You guys are great. The DoD fast-vertical-lift procurement process... not so much.
 

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I'm kind of curious what evidence there is for this. All we know is that they can operate in places we thought should be denied. But that can be as much a failure of Russian air defense than some special characteristic of the TB2.

I have a hard time thinking that all those close-in kills are just plain incompetence from Russians to defend themselves. But we are OT.
After seeing some of the incredibly poor planning and general lack of situational awareness on part of the Russians I don't think it is too surprising. I don't see anything that makes the TB2 particularly special despite what their marketing will be saying for the next 20 years. At some of the ranges we're talking about a Pantsir should be able to engage and shoot down an F-35 let alone a relatively slow drone with minimal RCS reduction or any ECM.

I'm saying it aint fooling the guys behind the screen, which is to say it only works on sensors generations behind civilian tech.

With modern EO sensors, a proper close range soft kill defense system would need to make the vehicle difficult to actually see on top of effects in other sensor bands.
If the defensive avionics enable to the helicopter to survive the missile launch and detect the location of the launch so they can lay down some fire while relocating its done its job well enough. Reducing the aircraft's visual signature would be great but I don't know if it's achievable with currently technology.

Destroying or suppressing all of those pesky drones that could enable stand-off attacks is a different challenge. Perhaps a supporting helicopter could accompany an attack flight and be outfitted with jammers, directed energy weapons, and whatever else might help in this role. I think piling that task onto the attack helicopters directly might prove difficult given all they're expected to do.
 
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After seeing some of the incredibly poor planning and general lack of situational awareness on part of the Russians I don't think it is too surprising.
(1)I'd like to kindly remind a typical western army lacks comparable systems altogether, much less their numbers. For others (as we saw in 2020) it's only going to be worse and worse.

(2)I.e. if there are exploitable holes in the Russian AD bubble (like here on Zmeiniy) - for almost everyone else you may assume that either there will be special cover from something much bigger(ships or air screen), or there will be nothing at all.

(3)Furthermore, drones with their long loiter show themselves quite good at exploiting gaps and opportunities - both in coverage and in time.

p.s. also, while Russian MOD is below horrible at getting proofs - absense of evidence isn't evidense of absense yet. They may not be lying about russian fighters shooting down a lot there in the last few days. In the end, island isn't in Ukrainian hands.
 

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Reminds me of this:
That said this can not be the long term state equilibrium. Everyone will stack up on offensive and defensive power with force modernization.

With modern EO sensors, a proper close range soft kill defense system would need to make the vehicle difficult to actually see on top of effects in other sensor bands.
Destroying or suppressing all of those pesky drones that could enable stand-off attacks is a different challenge. Perhaps a supporting helicopter could accompany an attack flight and be outfitted with jammers, directed energy weapons, and whatever else might help in this role. I think piling that task onto the attack helicopters directly might prove difficult given all they're expected to do.
Consider a 6th gen fighter, it is far away from all the cheap surface sensors, Yehudi lights are suspected and lasers is planned.

A DEW platform would be more expensive, more technologically difficult and in many ways no less direct combat oriented than the traditional attack helicopter. It could be consider the main combat force as opposed to "support." After all, a DEW system that can defeat drones can also defeat a wide array of surface targets and sensors and the much larger ammo load means it can do things like area "suppression".

Also force structures where non-VTOL DEW supporting VTOL attack aircraft doesn't make sense, thus either DEW VTOL or no VTOL...

Lesson 4 - Don't hover near ATGM teams.
If you don't intend to hover near the FLOT, then use a ESTOL ground attack aircraft and save oneself a lot of headache.

edit: now that I think about it, even when correctly hovering out of LOS of opponent land forces, one could lose a hovering heli to things like quadcopter dropping grenades (nevermind more significant threats). I would be super iconic if such a event gets filmed, but I guess pilots have already learned hovering is bad.

And loitering anti-ground munitions is a real, direct threat if helicopters are moving slowly. Even when moving "fast" for a rotorcraft, a harop class weapon can probably still make a intercept some of the time.
 
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Consider a 6th gen fighter, it is far away from all the cheap surface sensors, Yehudi lights are suspected and lasers is planned.

A DEW platform would be more expensive, more technologically difficult and in many ways no less direct combat oriented than the traditional attack helicopter. It could be consider the main combat force as opposed to "support." After all, a DEW system that can defeat drones can also defeat a wide array of surface targets and sensors and the much larger ammo load means it can do things like area "suppression".

Also force structures where non-VTOL DEW supporting VTOL attack aircraft doesn't make sense, thus either DEW VTOL or no VTOL...
A 6th generation fighter is a significantly larger and heavier aircraft than even an attack helicopter the size of the AH-64, plus a signficantly more expensive investment. A flight of attack helicopters is still going to have to carry its armament of ATGMs, rockets, cannon, and possibly air-to-air missiles. So some of those hardpoints will have to be sacrificed for jammers and DEWs unless you build a larger design with dedicated space for those systems (maybe something Mi-24 sized). In the near-term at least it might make more sense to configure one helicopter in a flight for a role that is primarily dealing with drones.

Yes DEW systems would have other uses but while frying a ground vehicles sensors is useful it's probably better to take out the offending vehicle with a Hellfire or whatever replaces Hellfire. As for suppressing infantry with a laser I think that might raise some "rules of warfare" ethical issues. That will be the case at least until you get lasers powerful enough to "cleanly" kill the unlucky fellows instead of just blinding and/or maiming them for life.
 

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Talking in absolutes when discussing future warfare is very hazerdous in the profession. "Show me your analysis!" will be the first question asked. YouTube and Twitter don't count. Does anyone have a count of how many UAV have been lost by both sides? How many dropped mortar rounds/hand grenades/rocks missed, versus the always deadly hits that both sides show you? How many sortie are both sides flying versus number of helicopters lost? How many UAV can you operate as mentioned above in an ECM environment designed to disrupt UAV comms? How many UAV communicate on a directional antenna versus omni-directional emission, which means they are beacons? How much bandwidth do you think is available for all these UAS to darken the sky? How far can a millimeter wave radar detect UAV when operating in air mode? What systems are shooting down quadcopters, and small UAV? What are the logistics challenges of getting UAV forward when it can be difficult to get a box of bullets forward? How stealthy is the command node operating and emitting directions to the UAS?

To be sure EVERYONE is watching closely what is going on. To be sure there will be changes to how armies operate. What is not happening is talking in absolutes and making snape decisions on how to do things in the future.
 

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