The major combat rotorcraft platforms in U.S. inventory — the Chinook, Black Hawk, Apache, and Kiowa Warrior — are based on designs from the 1960s and 1970s. While several are still in production or remanufacture, the Army is leading DOD’s effort to move to a new generation of rotorcraft technology.
The Future Vertical Lift (FVL) program is a research and development effort dedicated to discovering, investigating, and refining the technologies that is to provide the next generation of vertical lift aircraft for the United States Armed Forces. According to the Army, the goal of the program is to develop technologies that improve “maneuverability, range, speed, payload, survivability, reliability, and reduced logistical footprint” compared with current rotorcraft.
The Army lists FVL as one of its top six modernization priorities. The Marine Corps and Navy also plan to use FVL-derived technology in their next-generation rotorcraft. Although the FVL effort is intended to benefit all services, and elements of the work are joint, the Army is the lead service, and most funding for the program is included in the Army’s R&D budget.
FVL is in a fairly early stage, and aircraft likely to result from this program’s work are not expected to be operational until the early 2030s. However, in April 2018, then-Army Secretary Mark Esper directed the FVL team to determine whether promising technologies could be incorporated into a new aircraft within 10 years.