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.


U.S. Army?s researchers work to improve future helicopter performance

Researchers at the U.S. Army Combat Capabilities Development Command Aviation & Missile Center Aviation Development Directorate?Ames in rotors technical area stationed in Virginia are working to improve the capability of the future of Army aviation.

Army scientists have reached a promising milestone in the field of rotors research for improved capabilities of helicopters in the near future.

According to a recent CCDC Aviation & Missile Center news release, one of the projects the rotors technical area is working is in-flight rotor track and balance. Previously, blades on a helicopter had trim tabs that needed to be adjusted by hand to minimize vibration. Once adjusted, the aircraft would go through multiple track and balance flights to validate the adjustment. Centolanza said automating the process saves time and money. ?As we go to FVL, as we go faster, (active rotor track and balance) becomes more and more important. That really (aims towards) sustainment and improved performance, by reducing vibration,? he said.


?Cascading? Old Technology a Problem for Guard, Reserve Units

Equipping National Guard and Reserve units with hand-me-down helicopters, which the U.S. Army calls “cascading,” can lead to such units receiving new technology or significant upgrades, including those for rotorcraft, nearly a decade after active duty units.

“Helicopters are always among the issues at the forefront of the National Guard Association of the United States agenda,” John Goheen, a spokesman for the association wrote in an email. “The Army Guard has approximately 200 old A-model UH-60 Black Hawks. In addition, the Army Guard?s four Apache units are authorized only 18 aircraft when they need 24 to deploy. In addition, they are D-model AH-64s when the active component flies mostly E-models. “


Aviation, Missile Center partners with Germany to advance rotorcraft efforts

REDSTONE ARSENAL, Ala. (June 24, 2019) ? The U.S. Army Combat Capabilities Development Command Aviation & Missile Center?s Aviation Development Directorate is one of five primary investigators on the U.S. German Project Agreement on Advanced Technologies for Rotorcraft.

In place since 1979, the project agreement is a cooperative research arrangement between the United States and Germany. Primary investigators conduct collaborative research on their respective tasks and meet twice a year, once in Germany and once in the US.


Army Approaches Its Biggest Aviation Decision In 60 Years: Whether To Buy Tiltrotors

The Association of the United States Army held its annual conference and exposition in the nation?s capital last week. The event was huge and heavily attended, with hundreds of suppliers participating. But it wasn?t hard to figure out who had the biggest exhibit. It was Textron, owner of Bell Helicopter, which brought a full-scale model of a tiltrotor combat aircraft to the event.

Textron isn?t ranked among the Pentagon?s top contractors, but it sees an opportunity in the near future to reach a breakthrough deal with the Army comparable to when it sold thousands of UH-1 ?Hueys? during the Vietnam War. The Army is seeking to replace all of its current rotorcraft with next-generation aircraft under a joint program called Future Vertical Lift, and Textron thinks its unique tiltrotor technology is what the Army needs.

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 Lays Out Plans For Pilot-Optional ‘Knife Fighter’ Attack Reconnaissance Rotorcraft

The U.S. Army wants to have two different optionally-manned ?attack reconnaissance? aircraft prototypes ? almost certainly advanced helicopter or tilt-rotor designs ? ready for a competitive fly-off by 2022. Part of the service?s larger Future Vertical Lift program, the rotorcraft could help fill the gap left when it prematurely retired the OH-58D Kiowa Warrior, offer a possible replacement for some AH-64 Apache gunships and MQ-1C Gray Eagle drones, and may offer some of the capabilities that were supposed to come along with the abortive RAH-66 Comanche stealth helicopter.

On June 22, 2018, the U.S. Army Futures Command released a draft solicitation for the proposed Future Attack Reconnaissance Aircraft Competitive Prototype, or FARA CP, project, on the U.S. government’s main contracting website, FedBizOpps. As it stands now, the service wants to pick two finalists in 2020 and have the prototypes make their first flight in the first quarter of Fiscal Year 2023, which begins on Oct. 1, 2022. The Army is looking for feedback on its initial plan by July 18, 2018, and the final version could feature a different timeline.