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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.

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The US Army is building a ?cloud in the sky? for its aviation fleet

WASHINGTON ? The Army is building what is essentially a ?cloud in the sky? for its current aviation fleet as it prepares the aircraft to fight alongside a future fleet under development, according to Maj. Gen. Thomas Todd, the program executive officer for Army aviation.

The general spoke to Defense News in an interview ahead of the Association of the U.S. Army?s annual conference.

The current fleet won?t dissolve into thin air when future helicopters are fielded, and they will be expected to fly together in operational environments across multiple domains. The Army is aiming to field a future attack reconnaissance aircraft and a future long-range assault aircraft by 2030.

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U.S. House Committee ?Concerned? With Lack of Army Aviation Strategy

The House Armed Services Committee’s tactical air and land forces panel wants the U.S. Army to submit by March 30 next year a “comprehensive strategy … for Army aviation to ensure alignment between requirements, future Army budget submissions, and authorization of appropriations.”

“The required strategy would cover both current and future multi-domain operations for Army aviation,” according to language recommended by the panel?on the fiscal 2020 defense authorization bill, H.R. 2500. “The fiscal year 2020 budget request for the Army included several significant changes to aviation modernization programs. While these changes may align with the long-term Army aviation strategy, the committee is concerned with the absence of such a strategy that incorporates both current and future capabilities.”

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As Future Vertical Lift Gets Underway, Army Eyeing Chinook Replacement

A week after the Army pledged nearly $4 billion on its future attack helicopter effort, Army Secretary Mark Esper said he wants aircraft makers to start planning for the service’s next heavy-lift helicopter as a replacement for the CH-47 Chinook. In the near term, the Army’s Future Vertical Lift program has prioritized building the Future Attack Reconnaissance Aircraft (FARA), followed by the Future Long Range Assault Aircraft (FLRAA, pronounced “flora”), and fielding both next-generation helicopters by 2028.

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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.

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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.

BreakingDefense.com