FVL: Robotic Co-Pilots Will Help Fly Black Hawks In 2021

WASHINGTON: The Army and Sikorsky are converting a pair of aging UH-60 Black Hawks to use cutting-edge automation and fly-by-wire controls, with side-by-side formation flights planned for late 2021. A successful demonstration could pave the way both for upgrades across the entire helicopter fleet – not just Black Hawks – and for the next-generation Future Vertical Lift aircraft, which the Army wants to be “optionally manned” from day one.

Just replacing maintenance-intensive mechanical and hydraulic controls with all-electric fly-by-wire would be a major improvement. But installing fly-by-wire also makes it possible for a computer to fly the aircraft or help a human to do so, potentially preventing deadly accidents due to human error.

Sikorsky, part of Lockheed Martin, makes the UH-60 – the modern-day mainstay of Army aviation – and is competing to build both the scout and transport versions of FVL.


Fort Bragg helicopter pilots use new equipment for realistic training

Black Hawk helicopter pilots at Fort Bragg are training under realistic conditions in a simulator that arrived at the post a few months ago.

The Black Hawk Aircrew Trainer (BAT) at Simmons Army Airfield provides a safer and less expensive way for pilots to get ready for challenging situations.One situation that aircrews have to prepare for is flying in Afghanistan, where U.S. forces have been fighting since shortly after the 9/11 terrorists attacks in 2001.

Tom Wallis, an instructor and operator for the simulator, is a retired Black Hawk pilot. He flew in Afghanistan, where pilots often have to land at elevations of 10,000 feet.


Air Force pilot tests modified Black Hawk helicopter for first time

July 18 (UPI) — For the first time, an Air Force pilot tested an HH-60W combat rescue helicopter, which is a modified version of the Army’s UH-60M Black Hawk. Maj. Andrew Fama, a test pilot with the 413th Flight Test Squadron based in Eglin Air Force Base, Fla., flew the aircraft last Thursday at Sikorsky Aircraft’s Development Flight Center in West Palm Beach, Fla. Sikorsky is a subsidiary of Lockheed Martin.


US Army Eager to Launch Future Long-Range Assault Helicopter Competition

The U.S. Army is itching to leave the demonstration phase and in 2019 launch its official competition for a high-speed, long-range Black Hawk replacement, according to service aviation officials. If all goes as planned, 2019 could be the year Army aviation zeroes in on a future long-range assault aircraft (FLRAA) that eventually will replace the Black Hawk and see service with both the Navy and Marine Corps as well.


Why 2019 Needs To Be The Year The U.S. Army Picks Up The Pace On A New Long-Range Assault Aircraft

In the three decades since the Cold War ended, the U.S. Army has done a good job of sustaining the readiness of its helicopter fleet and installing new equipment when it was urgently needed.

What the Army hasn?t done is develop new combat rotorcraft. All of the combat aircraft in the current helicopter fleet were first fielded during the Reagan years?or earlier. Their designs reflect the state of technology when they were developed. For instance, none of the Army?s combat helicopters incorporate fly-by-wire technology, electronic flight controls that have been in use by other military services and commercial operators for decades.


This DARPA program will give Army and Marine aviators a robot co-pilot

Army aviators recently ran helicopters through missions with a kind of robot co-pilot for the first time, using technology a company says will be demonstrated in coming months on Black Hawk helicopters.

The pilots directed an ?optionally piloted helicopter? through mission scenarios ranging from obstacle avoidance to contour flight, according to a release.

The pilots used the technology to move a modified commercial helicopter, the S-76B Sikorsky, known as Sikorsky Autonomy Research Aircraft or SARA, through the scenarios designed under a Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency program with Lockheed Martin.

U.S. Army’s Black Hawk helicopters for Afghans lack lift of Russian ones they’re replacing: Pentagon

The U.S. Army?s Black Hawk helicopters are less capable for some missions conducted by Afghanistan?s Air Force than the Russian-made ones they?re replacing, according to the Pentagon?s inspector general.

It?s a setback six years after lawmakers started pushing for the U.S. to stop buying the Mi-17 sold by Rosoboronexport, Russia?s state-owned weapons exporter, in light of President Vladimir Putin?s interventions abroad. The Afghan military, which is working to develop its Air Force?s capabilities, has been flying the Russian-made chopper since the 1980s.