Army outlines FVL and JMR Focus
AUSA Winter, Huntsville, Alabama
Bailey, the newly-minted lead of the Army’s Joint Multi-Role / Future Vertical Lift (JMR/FVL) initiatives, gave reporters
an update on the Army’s plans for “the next 100 years” of rotary wing aviation during the final day of the
Association of the U.S. Army’s Winter Symposium and Exposition.
Bailey, a recently
retired Army Lt. Colonel, former Apache pilot and Apache Block III Product Manager, sought to dispel what he described as misperceptions about these two distinct, but related rotary wing
Future Vertical Lift
The Future Vertical Lift (FVL) program is a DoD-mandated,
Army-managed initiative to design and field multi-role replacements for thousands of existing helicopters across the Department.
DoD and the Army envision the fielding over the next several decades of a Future Vertical Lift Family of Systems with
high system commonality in four size classes: Light, Medium, Heavy, and the Ultra (C-130 size).
FVL is placing priority on containing unit acquisition
costs, but even more on reduction in life cycle costs, which presently account for 70% of total system cost. The
program office is consulting with the Rand Corporation and the F-35 program office to avoid the mistakes that have plagued
past large, joint-Service, multi-mission programs.
Bailey underscored that the nearest term FVL priority – the mission “hanging over our heads” --
is to field a replacement for the “medium” fleet of H-60 (Blackhawk) helicopters deployed across the Military
Services. While the age and modernity of these platforms vary, the systems are generally viewed as beginning
to face obsolescence in 2030.
Some 55 system requirements for this “medium” class have been outlined in a recently promulgated Future
Vertical Lift Family of Systems Initial Capability Document (ICD) and include the ability of the helicopter to fly at speeds
of up to 230 knots (a speed stipulating tiltrotor or compound rotor designs) and to perform in high/hot (6000 feet / 95F degrees)
notes that the current schedule for development of this next-generation FVL Medium helicopter concept is as follows:
o August 2015-- Materiel Development Decision
– FVL Analysis of Alternatives (AoA)
o 2018 -- Milestone A (Initiation
of Program of Record)
2020 – Award for System Design & Development (SDD)
o 2025 – Award for Engineering & Manufacturing Development (EMD)
– Award for Production
Joint Multi-Role Technology Demonstration (JMR-TD) Program
The Joint Multi-Role Technology Demonstration (JMR-TD)
program, which might be viewed as preliminary concept stage of the FVL, is an Army Science & Technology (S&T) program
focused in two key areas: (a) Air Vehicle demonstration; and (b) Mission Systems Architecture demonstrations.
The Army notes that
the purpose of the JMR-TD is to demonstrate an operationally representative mix of capabilities to investigate realistic design
trades and enabling technologies. Emerging results from the JMR-TD efforts will be used to inform the FVL effort regarding
promising vehicle configurations, the maturity of enabling technologies, attainable performance and capabilities, and highlight
the affordable technical solutions required to achieve those capabilities.
Bailey notes that under the Air Vehicle Demonstration
program four vendors (AVX Aircraft, Bell Helicopter, Karem Aircraft, and Sikorsky) were selected from nine submissions to
develop air vehicle designs under unique nine-month Technology Investment Agreements with
the Army’s Aviation and Missile Research, Development and Engineering Center (AMRDEC).
The four contractors
are completing their final designs and the JMR Program Office – working closely with helicopter SMEs from each of the
Services, NASA, academia and industry -- will soon begin design reviews. The Program Office plans to undertake
in June design and risk reviews and will make decisions on future Army investments that will likely result in two of the contractor
design teams being funded to construct two air vehicles and to fly them in 2017. Mr. Bailey cautions both
that this is “not a downselect” and that these air vehicles will not be traditional “prototypes” but
rather “Frankenstein aircraft.”
Under the Mission Systems Architecture Demonstration, the Army is seeking to develop
a robust, affordable, architecture for the FVL aircraft that will insure the systems are easy to upgrade and fully open for
the integration of new technology under the name of Joint Common Architecture (JCA). Two vendors will be
chosen to develop mission systems architecture designs for concept validation and standard maturiry.
in an Austere Environment
In closing, Bailey asserts that, while the FVL and JMR programs are small science and technology (S&T) programs
at present, they are of high priority to the Army and that his program, robustly funded, has felt no pressure in the current
austere funding environment. "The science and technology effort is supported 100 percent. That's
significant on its own. There is no other portfolio that is not feeling a significant cut." He notes
that DoD intends to spend $354 million on the JMR program between 2011-2019… and then the real money starts to kick
in as FVL moves into advanced development and production.