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Boeing and others puzzled over UH-1N replacement requirements

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posted on May, 2 2017 @ 07:09 PM
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Boeing and the other potential bidders for the Air Force UH-1N replacement program are puzzled over the requirements put forward by the Air Force. The program is appearing to be a repeat of the Common Vertical Lift Support Platform.

Under the CVLSP the Air Force put forward the requirement that the new platform be able to hover at 6,000 feet in 95 degrees. They have held on to that requirement to this day, which confuses some of the companies involved.


“I know that some of the requirements are the same that they were then and some of them I scratch my head on,” he says. “But they seem very reluctant to re-engage the process to try and redefine what those requirements are and justify them at this point...All I can say is, I’m not gonna throw a rock at them, they have a set of requirements they passionately believe in and they think they require all that stuff.”

www.flightglobal.com...




posted on May, 2 2017 @ 07:27 PM
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a reply to: Zaphod58




be able to hover at 6,000 feet in 95 degrees


I assume the 95 degrees is a temperature measurement.

If so, is it C or F and does it really get to that temp at 6,000 feet or roughly 2Km up?

P



posted on May, 2 2017 @ 07:29 PM
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a reply to: pheonix358

Lol, probably fahrenheit
edit on 2-5-2017 by Bfirez because: (no reason given)



posted on May, 2 2017 @ 07:41 PM
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UH-1

Hover ceiling (in ground effect) | 12,500 ft
Hover ceiling (out of ground effect) | 8,200 ft
Service ceiling | 19,390 ft

Bell Huey II

Service Ceiling (Pressure Altitude) 16,210 ft 4,940 m
Hover Ceiling IGE (Optional Max GW, ISA) 12,595 ft 3,839 m
Hover Ceiling OGE (Optional Max GW, ISA) 5,335 ft 1,626 m

Maybe it's a way of saying the huey II specs are not good enough.



posted on May, 2 2017 @ 07:45 PM
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a reply to: pheonix358

It does when they operate in the mountains. Some of the places they operate they're on the ground at over 6,000 feet and in 90 degree temperatures.



posted on May, 2 2017 @ 07:46 PM
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SNIPPED because I can't read plain english sometimes
edit on 2-5-2017 by AnonyMason because: (no reason given)



posted on May, 2 2017 @ 07:47 PM
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a reply to: AnonyMason

disregard for some reason my eyes missed the UH-1N replacement program.

I need to get away from the monitor for a bit, lol.



posted on May, 2 2017 @ 07:50 PM
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a reply to: AnonyMason

Helicopters have to be able to hover in that range, carrying a lot more weight than any aircraft, other than something like the Osprey. The F-35 and Harrier are only holding their own weight, where a helicopter has to hold its own weight, and payload.

In a mountain area there are currently very few helicopters that can do it.
edit on 5/2/2017 by Zaphod58 because: (no reason given)



posted on May, 2 2017 @ 08:45 PM
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originally posted by: Zaphod58
a reply to: pheonix358

It does when they operate in the mountains. Some of the places they operate they're on the ground at over 6,000 feet and in 90 degree temperatures.


Afghanistan happens all the time



posted on May, 2 2017 @ 08:49 PM
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a reply to: dragonridr

And there are very few helicopters that operate well there. They can operate there, but they don't handle the altitude well. Many of them are pushing their limits to operate at that altitude.



posted on May, 2 2017 @ 09:05 PM
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originally posted by: Zaphod58
a reply to: dragonridr

And there are very few helicopters that operate well there. They can op erate there, but they don't handle the altitude well. Many of them are pushing their limits to operate at that altitude.


Any helicopter can operate there to be honest what it is how well they operate. I know pressure altitude becomes important It is used to correlate aerodynamicand engine performance in the non-standard atmosphere. The higher the pressure
altitude is above standard, the lower the aircraft performance becomes due to thinner air density.



posted on May, 2 2017 @ 11:06 PM
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a reply to: dragonridr

Yes they can operate up there, but they can't come close to their max, or even useful payload at that altitude. So you end up using more helicopters for the same lift.



posted on May, 3 2017 @ 02:04 PM
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a reply to: Zaphod58

O.k., I read this this morning and my take is that first of all, the UH-1N is described as a "medium" helicopter in wikipedia. It's spec read out as:

The UH-1N has a fifteen-seat configuration, with one pilot and fourteen passengers. In cargo configuration it has an internal capacity of 220 ft³ (6.23 m³). An external load of up to 5,000 lb (2,268 kg) can be carried. The UH-1N was later developed into the civil Bell 212.[1]
(wikipedia).

I wasn't too happy with wikipedia's meager info: I searched and found this:


Maximum speed: 120 knots (135 mph, 220 km/h) Cruise speed: 110 knots (126 mph, 207.3 km/h) Range: 248 nmi (286 mi, 460 km) Service ceiling: 17,300 ft (5,273 m) Rate of climb: 1,755 ft/min (8.9 m/s) Power/mass: hp/lb (W/kg)
military.wikia.com...

If the problem is the HOGE, described at the below referenced site as the maximum altitude ceiling, then maybe the problem is that the US Military is stuck on the wrong manufacturers?

So for example, I found the AgustaWestland AW139M:

The AW139M is classified as a mid-size helicopter, and can be used for the following missions: Firefighting, Medical, Military, and Police. It can transport up to 15 passengers, just about the same as competitors of a similar size. The AW139M can fly as far as 573 nautical miles on a tank of fuel, a range that's 148 mi farther than other similarly sized rotorcraft. Its maximum altitude ceiling (HOGE) is 8130 feet, which is 470ft lower than average for its class. Top speed comes in at 165 knots, or 14% faster than the average mid-size helicopter.

helicopters.axlegeeks.com...

Then there's the AgustaWestland NH90

The NH90 is classified as a mid-size helicopter, and can be used for the following missions: Military. It can transport up to 20 passengers, 6 more than competitors of a similar size. The NH90 can fly as far as 530 nautical miles on a tank of fuel, a range that's 105 mi farther than other similarly sized rotorcraft. Its maximum altitude ceiling (HOGE) is 8530 feet, which is roughly average for its class. Top speed comes in at 162 knots, or 12% faster than the average mid-size helicopter.
helicopters.axlegeeks.com...

So then I looked for the specs on the MH-139 and found this:

The MH-139 is based on the Leonardo Helicopters AW139, of which there are 900 in service with more than 250 governments and private companies. Designed for day and night operations in a variety of climates, the AW139 is powered by two Pratt & Whitney Canada PT6 engines with full digital electronic engine control (FADEC) that give the aircraft an airspeed of 165 kt (190 mph, 306 km/h). Inside, there's a glass cockpit with advanced avionics and a four-axis digital autopilot with auto-hover.


After all this searching, I finally found the answer:

Boeing Co. on Thursday announced it will offer an MH-139 helicopter variant, based on Leonardo-Finmeccanica’s AgustaWestland AW139, for the Air Force’s UH-1N Huey helicopter replacement program. “This Northeast Philadelphia-built aircraft is sized to meet U.S. Air Force requirements and offers more than $1 billion in acquisition and lifecycle expense savings over 30 years when compared to competitor aircraft,” David Koopersmith, vice president and general manager of Boeing Vertical Lift, said in a release. The company unveiled its concept at the Air Force Association’s Air Warfare Symposium in Orlando, Florida. The multi-role aircraft is a 15-seat, medium-sized twin-engined helicopter. More than 250 of the aircraft have been assembled and delivered from the Philadelphia plant, Boeing said. “The fact that the AW139 is being built today on an active production line will speed it to meet the time-critical demand following the competition,” said retired Air Force Lt. Gen. Judy Fedder, director of global sales and marketing for Boeing Integrated Logistics.


So basically, Boeing is building a version of the AugustaWestland AW139 referenced above, but to US Milspec with a combination of off the shelf parts, (same engine as the Huey, but with upgrades), and new more state of the art avionics and safety features. Which arguably would provide a less maintenance intensive craft than the current fleet with the benefit of advancements.

Makes sense I guess.



posted on May, 3 2017 @ 02:17 PM
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a reply to: TonyS

They're trying to build as much as possible using off the shelf systems and platforms to reduce cost and development time, but with the requirements they put out in the RFP, it's going to be hard to do. According to all the manufacturers there is nothing existing that meets the requirements.

That's leading to them changing the RFP to allow for some development of new technologies during the developmental stage of the program. It should prove interesting.



posted on May, 3 2017 @ 10:36 PM
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I wonder if there is some method in the USAF's madness here?

It could be that they dont necessarily want a helicopter solution per se at all. Some of those requirements would be better met by a tilt rotor, specifically an AW609 (which will be built in Philadelphia) or the V-280. Either of those crafts offer a vastly improved range and speed profile as well as load carrying capacity. The only weak points I can see, are that the 609, at least in a commercial sense can only accommodate up to about 9 passengers although I suspect you could fit in more with military type troop seating. But does the USAF actually need up to 14 passenger seats anyway? I would bet the vast majority of flights have less than 6 on board. And although it was built with some military missions in mind it is a commercial craft so would require some militarization. It is also not yet in service although not far off. Final price has not been set but I'm betting it will be in the range of 15-25 million per airframe.

The V-280 however would accommodate up to 14 passengers straight out of the box and will be equipped with a lot of advanced features. Problem here is that it is yet to be built and its price is unknown. The manufacturer is hoping it will be around the same cost as a late model UH-60 or AH-64, but that could change. Besides we have no way of knowing when it would actually enter service, these programs have a history of bad slips to the far right.

Perhaps if this is the USAF's ultimate wish they would be better leasing or purchasing something like the UH-72 for a 5-8 year period to supplement and relieve the older UH-1's in the fleet. This could involve a "pay by the hour" maintenance scheme to save them having to stand up a separate logistics tail. This could be achieved by piggy backing off the existing fleet of UH-72's although I think the line may have completed its orders so either a restart, redirection of some of the existing airframes or use of the EC-145 version would need to be considered. And there are plenty of other candidate airframes you could substitute here anyway. It wouldn't need to be a one for one swap, around 30-40 would mean the oldest Huey airframes could be retired and serve as a source of spares to keep the remaining force running, being used only where they really need the extra seating capacity or load ability. That way the force of leased aircraft could do the smaller day to day mundane missions and at a lower CPFH, till something much better can replace them all.
edit on 3-5-2017 by thebozeian because: Further information added.



posted on May, 4 2017 @ 02:25 AM
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I thought Blimps were the next best thing since sliced bread for heavy lift at altitude..



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