JMR-FVL: Army Casts Dice for Future Helicopters
Maj. Gen. Michael Lundy, the Army’s aviation chief, indicated that in facing two competing technologies from two vendors for the medium-capacity variant of the Future Vertical Lift program, the Army would like both. One can be fitted for the troop carrying role, and the other for the attack/reconnaissance role. The Bell V-280 Valor (tilt rotor) has been theoretically competing against the Sikorsky/Boeing SB>1Defiant. Lundy told BreakingDefense.com that the decision was akin to the split between the Apache versus the Black Hawk.
The plan depends on the assumption – that other services have not been quite as bold in making – that sequestration will be lifted for FY 2016 onward. Lundy’s tone was fatalistic, indicating that the Army was planning for that one rosy scenario because the others – however likely – wouldn’t suit: “If we went to the worst case, it would affect almost every modernization program we’ve got in our branch.”
In addition to vanquishing sequestration, the Army’s modernization plans hinge on Congress approving their ARI plan, which involves shelving Kiowas and replacing that reconnaissance capacity with Apaches taken from reserve units, among other decisions that would be unpopular in many individual congressional districts.
The JMR-TD program is the science and technology precursor to the Department of Defense’s estimated $100 billion Future Vertical Lift program, which is expected to replace between 2,000-4,000 medium class UH-60 utility and AH-64 attack helicopters after 2030.
In reality, FVL will fall far short of that number if it ever goes ahead, but those figures are the current official fantasy. While they’re at it, the Pentagon wants breakthrough performance that includes the same hovering capability as smaller armed scout helicopters, and a 100+ knot improvement in cruising speed to 230+ knots. That’s almost certainly achievable, thanks to new developments that involve very different helicopter designs.
The JMR-TD Precursor Program
JMR-TD Phase 1: The Finalists
Contracts & Key Events
FY 2005 – 2012
Background: JMR-FVL Program & Contenders
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