U.S. Army selects BAE Systems to deliver autonomy capabilities for Future Vertical Lift initiative

BAE Systems has been awarded multiple contracts from the U.S. Army to develop key technologies for the Advanced Teaming Demonstration Program (A-Team). BAE Systems was the only company awarded contracts for three of the program’s four focus areas, designed to advance manned and unmanned teaming (MUM-T) capabilities that are expected to be critical components in the U.S. Army’s Future Vertical Lift (FVL) program.

In order to combat the increasingly complex, contested, and communication-denied battlespace presented by near-peer adversaries, the U.S. Army developed the A-Team program to create an automated system to offload the cognitive burden of pilots while enabling them to command swarms of unmanned aircraft.


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.


Army aviators ask for more comfort, less workload from future vertical lift teams

Army Futures Command introduced about a dozen soldiers to technology demonstrators for the service?s future vertical lift program last week, giving them an opportunity to provide input prior to the evaluations and fly-offs over the next few years.

The soldiers spent a full day each with Bell?s V-280 Valor tilt-rotor aircraft in Arlington, Texas, and Sikorsky-Boeing?s SB-1 Defiant coaxial helicopter in West Palm Beach, Florida.

The site visits included flying simulators and aircraft familiarizations. Two of the soldiers who participated spoke with Army Times about the experience.

?We?ve never seen anything like it,? said Chief Warrant Officer 2 William Bogert, a UH-60 Black Hawk pilot with the 82nd Combat Aviation Brigade.


Jumping into algorithmic warfare: US Army aviation tightens kill chain with networked architecture

NAVAL AIR WEAPONS STATION CHINA LAKE, Calif. ? In the skies above China Lake, California, from the back of an MH-47 Chinook cargo helicopter, an operator with a tablet takes control of a Gray Eagle drone and tasks it with firing a small, precision-glide munition at an enemy target located on the ground. But at the last second, a higher level threat is detected and the munition is rapidly redirected toward a different threat, eliminating it within seconds.

This was made possible through the architecture, automation, autonomy and interfaces capability, or A3I, built by the Army?s Future Vertical Lift Cross-Functional Team under Army Futures Command.


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.


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.


Army to Trim CH-47 Upgrades by 10 percent, McCarthy says

U.S. Army Undersecretary Ryan McCarthy said on March 13 that the Army will buy 10 percent fewer Boeing CH-47F Block II upgrades than planned in order to fund top modernization priorities, such as Long-Range Precision Fires, Future Vertical Lift (FVL) and the Next Generation Combat Vehicle, and Boeing said the decision, if implemented, would decrease Army readiness.


Bell to roll back V-280 funding until US Army competition

After the V-280 reached its 280kt (519km/h) speed goal on 23 January, Bell believes that it sufficiently demonstrated the tiltrotor technology.

?I think our team has done everything we’ve asked of them to design and build a terrific aircraft. Its maneuverability is outstanding. It’s been demonstrated,? said Scott Donnelly, chief executive of Bell, on an earnings call. ?So at this point, look, we’ll have no choice but to roll back any funding that we put into it, waiting to see what the Army is going to do, because we’ve done what we can do.?


First Flight for Sikorsky-Boeing?s Defiant Delayed Until 2019

Despite plans for the Sikorsky-Boeing Defiant helicopter to fly in 2018, the schedule has now slipped to next year, company executives said Dec. 12.

The Defiant ??which is based on Sikorsky?s X-2 technology ? is?an advanced rotary-wing platform developed for the Army to inform requirements for future vertical life aircraft. The system is part of the service’s joint multi-role technology demonstrator effort. The initiative is a precursor to the Army?s future vertical lift program, which is meant to replace legacy helicopters with a family of new systems in the 2030s.

While the Defiant is now fully built, recent discoveries with the power?train system test bed, or PSTB, system has caused delays, delaying first flight until early 2019, said Rich Koucheravy, Sikorsky?s director for business development for future vertical lift.

As defense budgets tighten, a new engine is critical to US Army aviation?s future

The Trump administration?s two-year defense budget for fiscal years 2018 and 2019 provided some $200 billion in higher funding. This increase came at a critical moment for the U.S. military, in general, and the Army, in particular. Of all the armed services, the Army was most in need of an infusion of resources to improve readiness, jump-start modernization and support the shift from a focus on counterinsurgency operations to preparations for great power competition.

Unfortunately, the future may not be as bright. President Donald Trump has suggested that he isn?t well-disposed to further defense budget hikes. In fact, he may even propose a flat defense budget, which would be a reduction in terms of real spending power. Further complicating the defense budget picture going forward are the midterm election results. The potential for a collision between the administration and the democratically controlled House over discretionary spending could result in a reimposition of budget caps and the threat of sequestration.