posted on Jul, 12 2019 @ 09:02 AM
The US Army has been working towards replacing its helicopters. The blanket program has been known as the Future Vertical Lift with the initial
demonstrators built under the Joint Multirole Demonstrator Program. Under the JMR, two demonstrator contracts were awarded. Boeing and Sikorsky have
been pushing their Defiant tandem rotor and Bell has been flying its tilt rotor. The FVL program was intended to replace the entirety of the US
Army's VTOL assets. The USMC and US Navy have been watching with an interest to pick up replacements for their helicopters as well.
It has been expected the first helicopters to be replaced would be the Blackhawks under a program called FLRAA. However, that has changed. The US
Army retired the Kiowa scout helicopter without a direct replacement. After attempting to team UAVs with Apaches and then have Apaches do scouting,
it was realized the role really did still need a manned VTOL of some kind. As a result, the US Army kickstarted the aggressive FARA program.
This program intends to have two prototypes in a fly-off in 2023. Then to have a downselect and have the production decision no later than 2028. The
US Army wants to accelerate the timeline even more if they can.
To that end, the US Army has awarded five contracts to companies to do preliminary design work on their prototypes. Teams led by Sikorsky, Bell, AVX,
Karem and Boeing were all awarded. Those will not be the only companies attempting to win the contract though, Global Skyworks (with Scaled
Composites), MD Helicopters and Airbus will also be attempting to win the final contract.
From what has been published publicly, Sikorsky and Boeing will offer a derivative of the Raider tandem rotor. This is, tbh, probably the favored
aircraft for the competition since the Raider has been flying for some time. The interesting bit is that SIkorsky and Boeing got separate contracts,
but I've not heard (please, correct if wrong) of any division in the BoSik team.
Bell, interestingly enough, has elected to NOT offer a tilt rotor. Rather it will offer a derivative of its 525 helicopter. Their intent is aimed at
meeting the requirements, but at a cost advantage. It could also be scaling down the Valor might be too tough to meet the FARA requirements.
AVX will, again, offer their ducted fan helicopter tech, but they have teamed with L3 to improve their changes. AVX has yet to put anything into
production, so that greatly increases their risks.
Karem is again offering a tilt rotor. Interestingly, Northrop and Raytheon have joined this team. That greatly increases the chances for Karem, but
Karem has a long and even sad history of dealing with the US military. They are often the token bidder, tbh, these days.
The teams that did not win contracts have their own offerings as well.
Airbus is offering a derivative of their X3 demonstrator. The design is almost reminiscent of an autogyro, tbh.
MD Helicopters is attempting to get back into the gov business and is offering a winged version of its MD 902. They protested their loss of the
design contract, but the GAO rejected that protest.
Finally, afaik, Skyworks Global and Scaled Composites are offering a derivative of their VertiJet. This is derived from work done by Sclaed for
DARPA. Their design aesthetic screams Scaled and Rutan. If it were to actually work, it would have the longest range and highest speed of any of the
designs presented. I ... have my doubts it will get built though.
I will see about uploading photos later since ATS seems to be having an issue right now.
This thread is the meta thread for the whole program. News, pictures and whatnot ought to be posted here. These META threads are meant to allow us
to collect information on certain topics in single threads and not have to hunt through ATS to try to find single, short lived threads for