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LAXPAX
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US Army Blackhawk Replacement Program

Thu Feb 21, 2019 12:57 am

The official title is Future Long Range Assault Aircraft program, but I did not think that would fit in the topic header. :smile:

Basically, the US Army is looking for a rotorcraft to replace the UH-60, and wow are there some interesting prospects, including the Bell V-280 Valor tiltrotor, and the Sikorsky-Boeing Defiant. There is more information and a link to a DOD video in this story at Ars Technica.

The US Army is also concurrently running a Future Attack Reconnaissance Aircraft program (basically a search for a new scout rotorcraft), which can either be discussed here, or in a separate thread.

(Mods: I did not see an existing thread for this US Army program, but please feel free to delete/merge this post if I missed it.)
"Remember, no matter where you go... there you are." -- Buckaroo Banzai
 
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LAXPAX
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Re: US Army Blackhawk Replacement Program

Thu Feb 21, 2019 1:31 am

Too late to edit that post, but of course I did later see Keesje's post regarding one of the rotorcraft referenced here -- which somehow did not turn up when I used the forum search engine, but was easily found using the Mk I eyeball. Mods, proceed as you like.
"Remember, no matter where you go... there you are." -- Buckaroo Banzai
 
Ozair
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Re: US Army Blackhawk Replacement Program

Thu Feb 21, 2019 1:37 am

Good thread.

I thought it would be worthwhile posting the recent contract award to GE for the ITEP which will power not only the Blackhawk and Apache fleets but is also likely to power some of what comes from the FVL program.

General Electric wins $517 million contract to build engines for Army’s next generation helicopters

General Electric Aviation beat the Advanced Turbine Engine Company — a Honeywell and Pratt & Whitney team — to win the $517 million award for the engineering, manufacturing and development phase of the Improved Turbine Engine Program, or ITEP.

“We are honored to be chosen by the Army to continue powering their Black Hawks and Apaches for decades to come,” said Tony Mathis, president and CEO of GE Aviation’s military business. “We’ve invested the resources and infrastructure to execute immediately, and our team is ready to get to work on delivering the improved capabilities of the T901 to the warfighter.”

The fierce competition started more than a decade ago, and its outcome will influence Army rotorcraft for decades to come. GE’s T901 engine is now set to replace the T700 used by the Army’s legacy utility and attack helicopters, but could also potentially outfit the Army’s next generation reconnaissance helicopter in the Future Vertical Lift family of systems.

“The requirements documents for the [Future Attack Reconnaissance Aircraft] specifies the ITEP engine. It has got the FVL stamp of approval,” Jim Thomson, Jr., acting deputy director for the Army’s future vertical lift cross functional team, told Defense News in a recent interview.

ITEP answers a number of problems that emerged as the Army operated Apaches and Black Hawks during combat in Afghanistan and Iraq. The AH-64 and UH-60 became heavier as the service added armor and other upgrades during wartime, and they flew in hotter conditions and higher altitudes than would normally be optimal.

“The helicopters were originally designed to work at 4,000 feet on a 95-degree day, and they were flying them much higher than that,” Mike Sousa, GE’s business development leader for advanced turboshaft engines, told Defense News in December 2018. “When you do that, you just don’t have as much power from the engine.”

The Army’s requirements for ITEP were clear throughout the process: Design a 3,000 shaft horsepower engine that reduces fuel consumption by 25 percent and increases its service life by 20 percent compared to the T700, a 2,000 shaft horsepower engine.

Both companies were awarded risk reduction contracts in August 2016, with ATEC getting $154 million and GE Aviation getting $102 million to further refine their designs. Both companies had already spent years conceptualizing new engines and developing novel tech.

GE, the incumbent manufacturer of the T700, offered a single spool engine. Sousa said that configuration would help the company meet weight requirements while removing cost and complexity from the design.

“Our fundamental approach there was how do we keep this engine as affordable as possible and as low weight as possible,” he told Defense News in 2018.

“Helicopters are unique in that they fly into very dirty environments, very austere environments, unprepared landing strips, unprepared surfaces,” added Ron Hutter, GE’s executive director of the T901 program. “They generate a lot of dust. You really want to look at the simplicity of the architecture in terms of maintainability. That’s another aspect that drove us to stick with the single-spool configuration.”

GE estimates that it’s spent $9 billion in testing technologies relevant to the T901.

ATEC had proposed a double spool engine it dubbed the T900.

“We were disappointed to learn that the U.S. Army did not select our offering,” said Craig Madden, president of ATEC. “We believe that we offered the most advanced, capable and lowest risk engine for ITEP for the Army to improve the overall performance of its Apache and Black Hawk fleets.”

https://www.defensenews.com/air/2019/02 ... licopters/

LAXPAX wrote:
Too late to edit that post, but of course I did later see Keesje's post regarding one of the rotorcraft referenced here -- which somehow did not turn up when I used the forum search engine, but was easily found using the Mk I eyeball. Mods, proceed as you like.

There are threads for the V-280 and the SB-1 but I don't believe those aircraft are the only two choices for FVL which could comprise up to five different aircraft across different sizes and weights. The V-280/SB-1 are essentially risk reduction programs with the high likelihood they can progress towards the next stage.
 
Reddevil556
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Re: US Army Blackhawk Replacement Program

Thu Feb 21, 2019 3:24 pm

Losing the Kiowa and not having a dedicated replacement was a bum deal. I loved Kiowa pilots, they always seemed fearless. Apache pilots always seemed more uptight and overly cautious. The run and gun attitude seemed to be a common theme with the Kiowa pilots. They loved CAS... I noted the same difference with Chinook vs Blackhawk pilots. Chinook pilots always seemed borderline crazy.
Jumped out of: C130H, C130J, C17A, C212, CH47, and UH60. Bucket list: C160, A400, C2
 
texl1649
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Re: US Army Blackhawk Replacement Program

Fri Feb 22, 2019 1:42 pm

The AVX bid and leadership team is pretty impressive, to my undiscerning eye, regarding a blackhawk replacement. I do feel, however, that laying out the FAR (armed attack recon) phases 1 and 2 will lead to a bias toward whatever two vendors make it to phase 2 of that program. This is unfortunate as I think the more conventional layout/bids will likely make it to the 2 contractor down select for phase 2 here, not any of the tiltrotor/unconventional options that could really be more affordable/reliable for the utility FVL (blackhawk replacement) competitions later.

http://www.avxaircraft.com/programs

https://www.verticalmag.com/news/u-s-ar ... t-program/
 
Kiwirob
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Re: US Army Blackhawk Replacement Program

Fri Feb 22, 2019 6:53 pm

Wasn’t Comanche an armed recon helicopter? Any chance that project could be revived?
 
texl1649
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Re: US Army Blackhawk Replacement Program

Fri Feb 22, 2019 7:23 pm

Heh, no. The Comanche was certainly designed/slated for that role, but that is in the dustbin now, for good. Keep in mind it flew over 20 years ago, now, using processors/engines/tech that the DoD wouldn't ever want to revisit as a new aircraft nowadays. It sort of represents the US Army aviation equivalent of USAF tanker procurement, post-Reagan administration.

http://nation.time.com/2012/05/25/real- ... elicopter/
 
IADFCO
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Re: US Army Blackhawk Replacement Program

Fri Feb 22, 2019 11:28 pm

I am a tech person, not a management/procurement person, so I can see two major contributions of the Comanche program in the ADS-33 handling qualities specs, with a lot of research in what makes helicopters easy/hard to fly, and in significant progress in fly-by-wire flight control systems, both for hardware and control law development.

Also, I think that Sikorsky learned a lot about designing and building bearingless main rotors -- in a sense Comanche paved the way for X-2/Raider/Defiant.
 
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LAXPAX
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Re: US Army Blackhawk Replacement Program

Sat Feb 23, 2019 12:52 am

Ozair wrote:
There are threads for the V-280 and the SB-1 but I don't believe those aircraft are the only two choices for FVL which could comprise up to five different aircraft across different sizes and weights. The V-280/SB-1 are essentially risk reduction programs with the high likelihood they can progress towards the next stage.


I'll be honest, the way these Future Vertical Lift programs are structured is a little confusing to me. First I believe they launched the Joint Multi-Role Technology Demonstrator; then Future Vertical Lift came out of that, and then within FVL there are the Future Long Range Assault Aircraft, and...whichever program is replacing the Kiowa.

Basically, as I understand it, the Valor and Defiant are technology demonstrators only, and these airframes are not intended to be actual prototypes. (Someone correct me if I'm wrong.) However, as demonstrators they are really interesting.
"Remember, no matter where you go... there you are." -- Buckaroo Banzai
 
texl1649
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Re: US Army Blackhawk Replacement Program

Sun Feb 24, 2019 12:29 pm

The FVL as just a prototype capabilities demonstration phase (Sikorsky vs. Bell) is a bit confusing, but the intent is to then move forward with a program of record and allow ‘packages’ of software/equipment to be added by other contractors. How that all makes it both cheaper and faster to buy is confusing but I suppose this phase has at least cost the tax payer less than for instance getting the RAH66 prototypes flying 20 years ago.

https://www.defensenews.com/land/2018/0 ... dark-ages/
 
WIederling
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Re: US Army Blackhawk Replacement Program

Sun Feb 24, 2019 5:51 pm

Does this belong here?
https://www.rotorandwing.com/2019/02/19 ... mpetition/
Airbus X3 based offering ... in the CGI phase.
Murphy is an optimist
 
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LAXPAX
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Re: US Army Blackhawk Replacement Program

Mon Feb 25, 2019 11:56 pm

texl1649 wrote:
The FVL as just a prototype capabilities demonstration phase (Sikorsky vs. Bell) is a bit confusing, but the intent is to then move forward with a program of record and allow ‘packages’ of software/equipment to be added by other contractors. How that all makes it both cheaper and faster to buy is confusing but I suppose this phase has at least cost the tax payer less than for instance getting the RAH66 prototypes flying 20 years ago.

https://www.defensenews.com/land/2018/0 ... dark-ages/


This was actually a really interesting article, thank you for posting it. Everyone should take a few minutes to read how the Army hopes to modernize acquisition and systems in one fell swoop.
"Remember, no matter where you go... there you are." -- Buckaroo Banzai
 
JayinKitsap
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Re: US Army Blackhawk Replacement Program

Sat Jun 01, 2019 5:37 am

 
Ozair
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Re: US Army Blackhawk Replacement Program

Tue Jul 02, 2019 3:58 pm

An interesting group of companies tying up for the attack recon component.

Karem, Northrop, Raytheon team for Army’s future attack recon helo competition

Karem Aircraft has forged a team with Northrop Grumman and Raytheon to compete in the Army’s Future Attack Reconnaissance Aircraft (FARA) competition, according to a July 1 company statement.

Karem was one of five companies awarded a prototyping development contract in April.

While details are scant as to how each company will contribute to the overall design, due in January or February of 2020, the teaming announcement says the three companies together “will apply decades of combined knowledge, skills and abilities to bring the best of vehicle and systems technologies and processes to the first aircraft within the Future Vertical Lift family of systems.”

...

https://www.defensenews.com/land/2019/0 ... mpetition/
 
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keesje
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Re: US Army Blackhawk Replacement Program

Tue Jul 02, 2019 9:29 pm

I see great VTOL variants, push rotors. I wonder what happens if they are 2,3x as expensive to buy and operate as a conventional Blackhawk kind of configuration..
"Never mistake motion for action." Ernest Hemingway
 
Spar
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Re: US Army Blackhawk Replacement Program

Tue Jul 02, 2019 9:32 pm

keesje wrote:
I see great VTOL variants, push rotors. I wonder what happens if they are 2,3x as expensive to buy and operate as a conventional Blackhawk kind of configuration..

The taxpayers just suckup and pay.

We're already in the process of throwing 17 billion (with a B) down the drain on shiny new F-15s. What's a few billion more on helicopter operating expenses?
 
texl1649
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Re: US Army Blackhawk Replacement Program

Tue Jul 02, 2019 10:31 pm

The FARA program is already discussed here. This pairing is great news.

viewtopic.php?f=10&t=1420523
 
cpd
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Re: US Army Blackhawk Replacement Program

Wed Jul 03, 2019 8:41 am

Kiwirob wrote:
Wasn’t Comanche an armed recon helicopter? Any chance that project could be revived?


What about bringing back the original Blackhawk? It was an armed helicopter that was also to be able to carry troops. I guess the Stealth Hawk is a no go - rumours suggest it doesn't perform very well.
 
RJMAZ
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Re: US Army Blackhawk Replacement Program

Sun Jul 07, 2019 5:41 am

keesje wrote:
I see great VTOL variants, push rotors. I wonder what happens if they are 2,3x as expensive to buy and operate as a conventional Blackhawk kind of configuration..

If one faster, longer ranged helicopter can perform the job of 2-3 slower older helicopters then it is still good value.
 
texl1649
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Re: US Army Blackhawk Replacement Program

Sun Jul 07, 2019 6:15 pm

The FLRAA program is supposed to have specification documents written this year, but none of the optimistic statements like “hope to do this as soon as possible’ are budgeted to happen and it’s tough to say what the contractors do in response to the specifications (if/when finalized). The Blackhawk fleet is so huge (1,700, and 3,000 globally with over 6 million flight hours to date), it is worth an enormous investment to the competitors who feel they could win it.

The final specs would have to be signed off on by the USN (joint program with marines), and also SOCOM. 2030 as a notional target date is just that; notional. Whoever gets FARA I would expect to have a leg up if it is executed well, or disadvantaged if it becomes yet another ‘problem’ program way over budget/late.

https://www.rotorandwing.com/2019/04/04 ... placement/
 
Ozair
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Re: US Army Blackhawk Replacement Program

Mon Jul 22, 2019 10:13 pm

Looks like the FLRAA has passed an initial gate to allow the program to move forward. The US Army expects to issue contracts for preliminary designs in FY21 with those designs reviewed in FY23 before first flight and Critical Design Review in FY24.

Army’s Future Long-Range Assault Aircraft passes through key requirements gauntlet

The Future Long-Range Assault Aircraft (FLRAA) has passed through the gauntlet of the Army Requirements Oversight Council (AROC), the one-star general in charge of the service’s Future Vertical Lift (FVL) modernization efforts told Defense News.

The aircraft program’s draft capabilities development document was approved by the panel last week, Brig. Gen. Wally Rugen said in a brief interview at an Army Futures Command event at Fort Myer in Arlington, Virginia, meant to showcase the command’s progress in executing the Army’s top six modernization priorities.

Future Vertical List is the third priority, with Long-Range Precision Fires and Next-Generation Combat Vehicle pulling rank.

The Army is embarking on an ambitious plan to procure two major helicopters back-to-back to replace UH-60 Black Hawks, AH-64 Apaches and to fill a gap left open when the service retired its OH-85 Kiowa Warriors in 2014.

The service published a request for information in April this year to gauge industry on the realm of the possible including the acceleration of FLRAA’s fielding schedule with a goal of delivering at least by fiscal year 2030.
...

https://www.defensenews.com/land/2019/0 ... -gauntlet/
 
texl1649
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Re: US Army Blackhawk Replacement Program

Mon Jul 22, 2019 11:51 pm

A 1 star general announcing a very preliminary AROC review doesn’t really portend anything happening in the next two years, particularly in this budget/political environment. The notional 2030 goal remains, but I don’t think anything concrete will happen prior to 2021.
 
JayinKitsap
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Re: US Army Blackhawk Replacement Program

Tue Jul 23, 2019 8:05 pm

Some of this 'pause' may be to see how the T901 is shaping up. I find the Army went the best approach in selecting the GE T901. As this engine is replacing the GE T700 in the existing Blackhawk's and Apache's. Defense contractors always are looking for changed conditions, but it is a lot harder to point the blame when both the existing and new engine are by the same manufacturer. Saving $ 162M with this stage is also nice, I believe the production engine pricing is also about 20% below the other bidder.

https://www.rotorandwing.com/2019/06/12 ... -contract/
 
Ozair
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Re: US Army Blackhawk Replacement Program

Thu Sep 12, 2019 1:28 am

As expected there is not a great deal of movement at this stage. The US Army is looking now for conceptual designs and it doesn’t appear to have any restrictions on submissions. You would think the V-280 and SB-1 would be well positioned for this but there appears scope for some justifiable novel designs to be successful.

Good to see the OTA being used as well.

US Army asks for FLRAA conceptual designs

The US Army is soliciting conceptual designs for its Future Long Range Assault Aircraft (FLRAA), opening the competition to replace the Sikorsky UH-60 Black Hawk.

In the first phase of the competitive demonstration and risk reduction process, industry participants are asked to submit an initial aircraft conceptual design. That includes “technical documentation to support the design, requirements decompositions, trade studies, and requirements feasibility,” says the US Army in a 3 September online post.

In an effort to speed up FLRAA development and delivery efforts, the service will use its Other Transaction Authority (OTA) to carry out the competition through the Aviation and Missile Technology Consortium. The consortium is managed by Advanced Technology International, a private organization specialising in industry-government collaborations.

...

https://www.flightglobal.com/news/artic ... ns-460702/
 
Ozair
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Re: US Army Blackhawk Replacement Program

Mon Sep 23, 2019 10:21 pm

The USMC is looking to piggyback off the US Army’s Blackhawk replacement program. They appear to be seeking a more demanding set of requirements than the Army as per the last para in the quote below. Commonality of course is a huge factor for the USMC given their operating concept and I hope they choose the same frame as the US Army to better leverage the synergies of a huge fleet.

USMC looks for high-speed replacement to Bell UH-1 and AH-1

The US Marine Corps issued a request for information for its Attack Utility Replacement Aircraft (AURA) programme, formally launching its search for a rotorcraft to succeed the Vietnam War-era Bell UH-1 utility and AH-1 attack helicopters.

Using the request, the service intends to ask the defence industry for comments on air vehicle and engine design, mission systems development, primary systems integration and engineering and software development, according to a notice posted by US Naval Air Systems Command (NAVAIR) on 16 September.

The USMC is piggybacking on development efforts led by the US Army’s Future Long Range Assault Aircraft (FRLAA) programme. It had previously said it planned to launch an acquisition programme about two years later. Leading competitors for that programme include Bell’s V-280 Valor tiltrotor and Lockheed Martin-Boeing’s SB-1 Defiant compound helicopter.

...

The USMC’s requirements are even more ambitious than the US Army’s, including an un-refuelled combat radius of 450nm (833km), with a 30min loiter. The service also wants a maximum continuous cruise speed of 295kt (546km/h) at 90% maximum continuous power and 330kt indicated airspeed at 100% of intermediate-rated power.


https://www.flightglobal.com/news/artic ... -a-460970/
 
texl1649
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Re: US Army Blackhawk Replacement Program

Tue Sep 24, 2019 12:47 pm

The Army was/is doing a good job trying to drive low cost/rapid procurement. This led the competitors basically away from tilt rotors etc. The USMC, as with their unique ATF requirements, and the V-22 (both took over a decade longer to deploy than intended; coincidence?), would just drag it into a more complex/expensive/lengthy program, for their much smaller procurement quantities.

The cruise speed requirement is just silly.

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