May 6, 2014

US Army Slowly Nears Apache, Black Hawk Replacements

In July, the US Army will make its first big decision on how to proceed with the ambitious, decades-long developmental project to replace up to 4,000 Apache and Black Hawk helicopters by the mid-2030s.
Four contractors are working on demonstrator and technology projects under the Joint Multi-Role (JMR) program, which will eventually develop the baseline requirements for the Future Vertical Lift (FVL) effort.
The teams will submit their work to the Army in June for evaluation, after which the number of competitors will likely be whittled to two that will build actual demonstrator aircraft that will fly from 2017 to 2019.
After the flight tests and technology development, JMR will go away, and the FVL program will kick off with a request for proposals open to all comers who think they can meet the specifications developed under the JMR program.
Teams led by Bell Helicopter, Sikorsky Aircraft and Boeing, AVX Aircraft, and Karem Aircraft are working to make it past the July make-or-break point.
Sikorsky-Boeing team and AVX are developing plans for coaxial-rotor technologies, while the teams led by Bell and Karem have said they are developing tilt-rotor designs.
Specifications include a design that would be capable of performing both medium utility and attack missions, with a 230-knot cruising speed, and of hovering at 6,000 feet in 95-degree temperatures.

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