Low, Fast, Networked & Lethal: Future Army Airpower

WASHINGTON: The year is 2030, and an Army scout aircraft streaks above the treetops at 200 miles an hour.

At speeds no conventional helicopter could reach, advanced sensors and automation help the human pilots skim over obstacles while staying under radar. Wireless networks link the manned craft to a swarm of unmanned ones: mini-drones to scout ahead, big flying “mules” to haul high-powered jamming pods and racks of missiles. Miles overhead, satellites spot enemy anti-aircraft batteries and warn the pilots to evade, then transmit target coordinates to long-range missile batteries that blast a path for the aircraft to advance.

That’s the vision for Army aviation in future wars, as laid out for us in interviews with senior pilots — including the Chief of Staff.


U.S. Army Upgrades Vision For Future Vertical Lift Programs

In piecing together a delicate plan to field two advanced rotorcraft simultaneously within a decade, the U.S. Army chose its priorities carefully. 

The Army could load the first Future Long-Range Assault Aircraft (FLRAA) and Future Attack Reconnaissance Aircraft (FARA) with advanced new systems and weapons needed for operations in the 2030s or keep to existing or highly mature technologies and field both aircraft years earlier.


Army Eyes Replacing Apache With FARA As Its ‘Kick In The Door’ Attack Helicopter

For decades, the AH-64 Apache has been the Army’s Alpha Dog, the aircraft you go to war in on day one. Apparently, that won’t be the case in the not-so-distant future. Some time around 2030, the Army’s Future Attack Reconnaissance Aircraft (FARA) will be its first-day fighter.

If the idea of FARA as a “kick in the door” attack helicopter comes as news to you, you’re not alone. It has largely been promoted as a light-attack reconnaissance helicopter, meant to work with other joint force platforms and air-launched affects, and to relieve the Apache of the mission once performed by the OH-58 Kiowa Warrior.


Why Does The U.S. Army Need Ten Years To Begin Fielding A New Recon Helicopter?

John Adams famously proposed a “government of laws and not of men.” Sometimes it seems as though what we actually ended up getting was a government of?lawyers.?The simplest decisions get bogged down in process — even when lives are on the line, even when the likely outcome of the process in question is obvious to everybody who’s paying attention.

The U.S. Army’s latest effort to acquire new armed recon helicopters is a case in point. The Army has been seeking a new rotorcraft that can find and attack targets in contested air space for a long, long time. So long that the last of its legacy recon helicopters was retired last year. By that time, the venerable Kiowa scout had been in service for nearly half a century.

Army Can Revolutionize Aviation Without Busting Budget, Leaders Say

ARMY S&T CONFERENCE: ?We?re not bringing a big bill to Congress,? Army aviation program manager Dan Bailey told me here. ?Aviation?s paying its own way.?

After an unbroken string of failed helicopter programs over the last 14 years (RAH, ARH, and AAS), Army leaders believe they?ve broken the curse with a new approach to acquisition. With mature technology and careful timing, they plan to throttle back upgrades to current helicopters ? whose modernization will be mostly complete in the next few years ? as they ramp up spending on new, much faster aircraft.