• In Search of Integrated Solutions

    Kris Osborn

    The Pentagon and the Army are in the early stages of a far-reaching science and technology (S&T) effort to engineer, build, and deliver a next-generation helicopter with vastly improved avionics, electronics, range, speed, propulsion, survivability, operating density altitudes, and payload capacity. In a series of five articles, Access AL&T looks in detail at what this program is intended to accomplish and how industry is contributing.

    New sensing capabilities and technologies are aiding pilots navigating in degraded visual environments. Here, a Kentucky National Guard Aviator flys a mission run for the Air Soldier System situational awareness technologies during a test in which the pilot must land the aircraft during a “brown-out” landing. (U.S. Army photo.)

    The Army’s Mission Systems and Aircraft Survivability Equipment strategy is aimed at fielding an integrated suite of sensors and countermeasure technologies designed to identify, and in some cases, deter a wide range of potential incoming threats, from small arms fire to rocket-propelled grenades and shoulder-fired missiles. 

    One such example of these technologies is Common Infrared Countermeasures (CIRCM), a lightweight, high-tech laser jammer engineered to divert incoming missiles by throwing them off course. CIRCM is an improved version of the Advanced Threat Infrared Countermeasures system currently deployed on aircraft.

    CIRCM, which will be fielded by 2018, represents the state of the art in countermeasures technology. Future iterations of this kind of capability that are envisioned for 2030 may or may not be similar, but will be designed to push the envelope, said Ned Chase, Chief, Platform Technology Division, Aviation Applied Technology Directorate (AATD), Fort Eustis, VA, and Science and Technology Lead for the JMR Technology Demonstrator Program.  

    “We will need to be responsive to today’s threats, plus additional threats that we don’t even know about yet. With JMR, we are talking about a vertical lift aircraft that has significantly different capabilities, so the sensors and mission equipment will have to be significantly different in order to accommodate the dimensions of the new Air Vehicle and the flight environment in which it will operate,” Chase said.

    Additional countermeasure solutions proposed by industry could include various types of laser technology and directed energy applications, as well as missile-launch and ground-fire detection systems, said Ray Wall, Chief of AATD’s Systems Integration Division and the Lead for Phase 2 of the JMR Technology Demonstrator program.  

    The Nov. 9, 2011, Request for Information (RFI) for the Joint Multi-Role Technology Demonstrator Phase 2 Mission Systems Demonstration seeks information on: 

    • Sensor technologies, such as next-generation options and solutions that might improve on the state-of-the-art Modernized Target Acquisition Designation Sight/Pilot Night Vision Sensor (MTADS) systems currently deployed on Army helicopters. MTADS sensing and targeting technology provides helicopters with thermal-imaging infrared cameras as well as stabilized electro-optical sensors, laser range finders, and laser target designators.

    The upgraded MTADS systems currently deployed on aircraft were engineered to accommodate their size, weight, and power dimensions, which are likely to change with the arrival of a new Air Vehicle built for JMR, Wall said.“We’re looking for enhancements to MTADS and other sensors and mission equipment in terms of how they could be incorporated into the airframe of a new Air Vehicle,” he said.  

    • Integrated weapon and sensor systems. The JMR aircraft will be engineered to integrate weapon and sensor systems to autonomously detect, designate, and track targets; perform targeting operations during high-speed maneuvers; conduct off-axis engagements; track multiple targets simultaneously; and optimize fire control performance so that ballistic weapons can accommodate environmental effects such as wind and temperature.
    • “Autonomous flight” or “optionally piloted” technologies. Exploring these possibilities is also central to the JMR program. Along these lines, the AATD is looking for technical solutions or mission equipment that increases a pilot’s cognitive decision-making capability by effectively managing the flow of information from an array of sensors into the cockpit.

    The RFI describes much of this capability in terms of a Human Machine Interface, whereby advanced cockpit software and computing technologies can autonomously perform a greater range of functions than now, such as onboard navigation, sensing, and threat detection, thus lessening the burden on pilots and crew, Chase said.

    In particular, cognitive decision-aiding technologies explored for the fourth-generation JMR cockpit will develop algorithms able to track, prioritize, organize, and deliver incoming on- and off-board sensory information by optimizing visual, 3-D, audio, and tactile informational cues, said Malcolm Dinning, U.S. Army Aviation and Missile Research, Development, and Engineering Center Aviation Liaison to the Office of the Assistant Secretary of the Army for Acquisition, Logistics, and Technology. 

    “What we’re really looking to do for the volume of information flowing into the aircraft is exploring how to best deliver this information without creating sensory overload. Some of this information may be displayed in the cockpit, and some of it may be built into a helmet display,” Dinning said.

    • Manned-Unmanned Teaming (MUM-T). The state of the art in MUM-T allows helicopter pilots not only to view video feeds from nearby unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) from the cockpit, but also to control the UAS flight path and sensor payloads. Future iterations of this technology may seek to implement successively greater levels of autonomy, potentially involving scenarios wherein an unmanned helicopter is able to perform these functions in tandem with nearby UAS, Chase said.
    • Air-to-air “tracking” capability. Advanced software and sensors could inform pilots of obstacles such as a UAS or nearby aircraft; this technology will probably include Identify Friend or Foe transponders, which cue pilots regarding nearby aircraft, Wall said.
    • Technical solutions to provide another important obstacle avoidance “sensing” capability, called Controlled Flight Into Terrain. Sensors, advanced mapping technology, and digital flight controls would be engineered to protect an aircraft from nearby terrain such as trees, mountains, telephone wires, and other low-visibility items by providing pilots with sufficient warning and, in some instances, offering them course-correcting flight options.

    Using sensors and other technologies to help pilots navigate through “brown-outs” or other “degraded visual environments” is a key area of emphasis as well, Wall said.

    “Overall, what we are trying to do is look at a range of solutions such as radar, electro-optical equipment, lasers, sensors, software, avionics, and communications equipment and see what the right architecture is and how we would integrate all these things together,” he explained.

    Previous stories on JMR:
    Pentagon, Army Developing Next-Generation Helicopter Fleet (9 January 2012)
    Industry Teams at Work on JMR (10 January 2012)
    The JMR Vision, From the Outside In (11 January 2012)
    Next-Generation Equipment Eyed for New Helicopter (12 January 2012)

    For more information on the DASA for Research & Technology, visit https://www.alt.army.mil/portal/page/portal/oasaalt/SAAL-ZT.


    • KRIS OSBORN is a Highly Qualified Expert for the Assistant Secretary of the Army for Acquisition, Logistics, and Technology Office of Strategic Communications. He holds a B.A. in English and political science from Kenyon College and an M.A. in comparative literature from Columbia University.

    Read more »
  • Next-Generation Equipment Eyed for New Helicopter

    Kris Osborn

    The Pentagon and the Army are in the early stages of a far-reaching science and technology (S&T) effort to engineer, build, and deliver a next-generation helicopter with vastly improved avionics, electronics, range, speed, propulsion, survivability, operating density altitudes, and payload capacity. In a series of five articles, Access AL&T looks in detail at what this program is intended to accomplish and how industry is contributing.

    A portion of the JMR Technology Demonstrator Phase 2 solicits feedback on emerging technologies in Aircraft Survivability Equipment. Here, a Soldier performs an engine run-up in preparation for a UH-60 air transport mission. Aircraft survivability equipment (APR-39 and Common Missile Warning System) is on and operational as visible in the instrument panel. (U.S. Army photo by J.D. Williams.)

    The Army-led Science and Technology (S&T) Joint Multi-Role (JMR) Technology Demonstrator effort is heavily focused on leveraging advanced electronic and avionics capabilities.

    As part of the JMR Technology Demonstrator Phase 2, the U.S. Army Aviation and Missile Research, Development, and Engineering Center (AMRDEC), Redstone Arsenal, AL, sent a formal Request for Information (RFI) out to industry on Nov. 9, 2011, to solicit feedback on developmental solutions and emerging technologies in the areas of Mission Systems and Aircraft Survivability Equipment. Vendors were invited to a JMR Industry Day in Newport News, VA, Nov. 18 to learn more.

    “Our notional strategy with this RFI is to look at potential technological solutions which can be integrated onto our flight demonstrator aircraft in the 2018 timeframe,” said Dave Weller, S&T Program Manager, Program Executive Office Aviation.

    “The Phase 1 Air Vehicle design will provide a new platform, but the ability to be operationally effective depends upon the Mission Equipment Package, such as targeting, weapons package, and sensor capabilities,” said Malcolm Dinning, AMRDEC Aviation Liaison to the Office of the Assistant Secretary of the Army for Acquisition, Logistics, and Technology.

    “As we start looking at vehicle speeds that are well above current aircraft, we cannot simply add large sensor pods onto the aircraft. We have to figure out how to integrate these sensors and antennas as conformal systems to the airframe,” Dinning said.

    “We don’t anticipate any particular solution. Rather, we are asking industry to propose solutions to certain problems we are looking to solve,” said Ray Wall, Chief of the Systems Integration Division in AMRDEC’s Aviation Applied Technology Directorate (AATD), Fort Eustis, VA, and the Lead for Phase 2.

    “As we start looking at vehicle speeds that are well above current aircraft, we cannot simply add large sensor pods onto the aircraft. We have to figure out how to integrate these sensors and antennas as conformal systems to the airframe.”

    “We told our industry partners what we are trying to do and gave them the proper framework with which to give us advice. We’re asking for industry to provide feedback regarding whether they have specific solutions which can meet our approach and solve our capability gaps. We are also interested in their comments regarding whether they believe we have adequately addressed an approach to solving problems that we know exist,” said Wall.

    A Broad Agency Announcement to vendors is expected this month. The AATD plans to conduct a Phase 2 configuration trades and analysis beginning in July, followed by the award of multiple Mission Systems Effectiveness Trades and Analysis Technology Investment Agreements later this year.

    “We don’t want to be bound by what is out there today. The hardware and software solutions we seek may be similar or radically different than what exists today,” Wall said.

    NEXT: In Search of Integrated Solutions 

    Previous stories on JMR:
    Pentagon, Army Developing Next-Generation Helicopter Fleet (9 January 2012)
    Industry Teams at Work on JMR (10 January 2012)
    The JMR Vision, From the Outside In (11 January 2012)

    For more information on the DASA for Research & Technology, visit https://www.alt.army.mil/portal/page/portal/oasaalt/SAAL-ZT.


    • KRIS OSBORN is a Highly Qualified Expert for the Assistant Secretary of the Army for Acquisition, Logistics, and Technology Office of Strategic Communications. He holds a B.A. in English and political science from Kenyon College and an M.A. in comparative literature from Columbia University.

    Read more »
  • The JMR Vision, From the Outside In

    Kris Osborn

    The Pentagon and the Army are in the early stages of a far-reaching science and technology (S&T) effort to engineer, build, and deliver a next-generation helicopter with vastly improved avionics, electronics, range, speed, propulsion, survivability, operating density altitudes, and payload capacity. In a series of five articles, Access AL&T looks in detail at what this program is intended to accomplish and how industry is contributing.

    CW4 Joel Sizelove, Production Control Officer in Charge for Task Force Lift, checks the readouts from the Integrated Vehicle Health Management System (IVHMS) on a UH-60M Black Hawk to determine, among other things, track vibrations in the rotors, at Kandahar Airfield, Afghanistan, in August 2011. The Joint Multi-Role (JMR) program is expected to use Health and Usage Monitoring Systems, like the IVHMS, to streamline repairs and replacement and thus extend the aircraft’s service life. (Photo by Jennifer Andersson.)

    The areas of science and technology (S&T) focus for the Joint Multi-Role (JMR) Technology Demonstrator program span a wide spectrum of emerging technologies, including composite materials, onboard electronics, and various rotor configurations designed to increase speed without compromising hovering ability, said Dave Weller, S&T Program Manager in Program Executive Office Aviation.

    One of several existing “compound helicopter” technologies under examination in the Phase 1 configuration and trades analysis is a coaxial rotor system, which places auxiliary propulsion technologies or “thrusting” devices at the back end of the aircraft to provide extra speed.

    Another example is a helicopter that uses two turbo-shaft engines and two small fixed-wings on each side of the aircraft, fitted with a pusher-propeller for extra propulsion.

    Also under examination is the potential use of tilt-rotor aircraft technology such as that currently used for the V-22 Osprey; with this design, the aircraft can reach high speeds in airplane mode and then maintain its ability to hover successfully in helicopter mode.

    “When you develop capabilities like these, however, you give up some hover ability. A main focus of the research is to look at ways of increasing speed without sacrificing the ability to hover,” Weller said. “Part of the science and technology program is to look at different configurations.”

    One possible solution is multi-speed transmission capability, a unique configuration designed to increase speed while avoiding the aerodynamic phenomenon of transonic shock, said Mac Dinning, the U.S. Army Aviation and Missile Research, Development, and Engineering Center Aviation Liaison to the Office of the Assistant Secretary of the Army for Acquisition, Logistics, and Technology.  

    “All of the helicopters we develop now are built with a single-speed transmission. We are looking at how we can leverage technology and put in a multi-speed capability,” Dinning explained.

    In addition, the new Air Vehicle may contain composite materials and/or items now in development, said Ned Chase, Chief, Platform Technology Division, Aviation Applied Technology Directorate and S&T Lead for the JMR Technology Demonstrator Program.

    “We are exploring how to get the most efficiency out of the new structure that we can. One way to do that may be by using composite materials,” he said.

    Increasing Air Vehicle speed can shorten the response time for extended missions or lengthen combat radius, a critical necessity for saving lives in medical evacuations and getting supplies such as food, water, and ammunition to forward-positioned forces, Dinning said.

    Among other possible designs, the JMR Technology Demonstrator program is examining the potential use of tilt-rotor aircraft technology such as the one used by the V-22 Osprey, which allows the aircraft to reach high speeds in airplane mode and then maintain its ability to hover in helicopter mode. Here, a V-22 Osprey prepares for landing aboard the USS Bonhomme Richard Sept. 28, 2011. (Photo by LCpl Timothy Lenzo, U.S. Marine Corps.)

    “Current helicopter systems are designed to operate for approximately two hours without refueling. Typical cruise speeds of 140 knots limit the range that these aircraft can operate in. Short of off-loading payload (troops, weapons, cargo) to add extra fuel bladders, extended-range operations must rely on Forward Arming and Refueling Points (FARPs), where fuel and armaments are prepositioned. The Army recognizes the need to reduce the manned footprint of these forward operation positions,” Dinning said. 

    Nonlinear, asymmetric, or counterinsurgency-type environments such as in the current conflict in Afghanistan underscore the need to reduce the risks associated with having deployed units travel to potentially hostile prepositioned locations to set up FARPs, he added.

    Phase 2 of the JMR Technology Demonstrator effort will include an extensive Mission Systems and Aircraft Survivability Equipment S&T developmental effort, which will determine, in large part, what the inside of the new helicopter looks like.  

    Like Phase 1, Phase 2 puts a heavy emphasis on affordability and encouraging innovation in a manner that also contains costs.

    Along these lines, the JMR is expected to use Health and Usage Monitoring Systems (HUMS), diagnostic sensor technologies attached to key aircraft components to catalog usage data and thus streamline repairs and replacements, substantially lower maintenance costs, and in some cases extend the service life of aircraft, Dinning said.

    “HUMS absolutely has the highest potential for reducing operational and maintenance cost of the aircraft. This provides an ability to build sensors onto maintenance-intensive components that we routinely inspect. We record the flight usage spectrum, and the sensors record the behavior of this component.

    “This information is then passed to a diagnostic software tool that diagnoses anomalies in that behavior and then sends the information to a prognostic tool, which determines when failure might occur. This combination of sensing, diagnostics, and prognostics allows us to move from our current scheduled maintenance to a condition-based maintenance approach. This allows us to replace stuff only as needed,” Dinning said.

    While this technology is used widely in the current fleet of Army aircraft, future applications of HUMS will look at innovative ways to embed diagnostic technologies onto the Air Vehicle itself, he said.

    NEXT: Next-Generationl Equipment Eyed for New Helicopter 

    Previous stories on JMR:
    Pentagon, Army Developing Next-Generation Helicopter Fleet (9 January 2012)
    Industry Teams at Work on JMR (10 January 2012)

    For more information on the DASA for Research & Technology, visit https://www.alt.army.mil/portal/page/portal/oasaalt/SAAL-ZT.


    • KRIS OSBORN is a Highly Qualified Expert for the Assistant Secretary of the Army for Acquisition, Logistics, and Technology Office of Strategic Communications. He holds a B.A. in English and political science from Kenyon College and an M.A. in comparative literature from Columbia University.

    Read more »
  • Industry Teams at Work on JMR

    Kris Osborn

    The Pentagon and the Army are in the early stages of a far-reaching science and technology (S&T) effort to engineer, build, and deliver a next-generation helicopter with vastly improved avionics, electronics, range, speed, propulsion, survivability, operating density altitudes, and payload capacity. In a series of five articles, Access AL&T looks in detail at what this program is intended to accomplish and how industry is contributing.

    The Joint Multi-Role science & technology effort is exploring the development of a new attack or utility helicopter. Here, SPC David Reed, an Apache Mechanic in the 615th Aviation Support Battalion, 1st Air Cavalry Brigade (ACB), 1st Cavalry Division (Cav. Div.), Multi-National Division – Baghdad, works on the engine compartment of the helicopter during a 500-hour phase maintenance inspection on the AH-64D Apache attack helicopter. (U.S. Army photo by SGT Travis Zielinksi, 1st ACB, 1st Cav. Div. Public Affairs.)

    The Joint Multi-Role (JMR) science and technology (S&T) effort, led by the U.S. Army Aviation and Missile Research, Development, and Engineering Center (AMRDEC), has awarded  “concept trade and analysis” deals to four industry teams tasked with examining the attributes, designs, and technologies needed to build a new, more capable attack or utility helicopter.   

    “The real focus of JMR is to get at the three major tenets: improve the performance, improve the survivability, and significantly reduce the operating cost. The next-generation aircraft will have to be a whole lot less expensive to operate than the current fleet,” said Dave Weller, S&T Manager, Program Executive Office Aviation.   

    “Also, a big issue is increasing reliability and shortening the supply chain to get the logistical benefits of commonality of parts. When we did an adjunct capability-based assessment to identify gaps, we came up with some 55 gap areas. The number one gap was reliability.”  

    The Aviation Applied Technology Directorate, Fort Eustis, VA, which leads the execution of the tech demo effort on behalf of AMRDEC, awarded 18-month Technology Investment Agreements to Boeing Co., a Bell Helicopter-Boeing team, and Sikorsky Aircraft Corp.; and a 15-month contract to AVX Aircraft Co.   

    The government and its industry partners will first conduct analytical studies and trade assessments to articulate what might be technically possible. These initial findings will help inform the specifications for the rotorcraft demonstrator vehicles to be built.   

    “Right now the plan is to go through the first phase to define what the state of the possible would be, followed by a down-select to build two demonstrators. The idea is to identify, develop, and demonstrate the best trade solution that covers the attribute matrix. The government is doing the same kind of analysis that industry is doing, so we plan to compare our results,” Weller explained.  

    Initial results from these efforts are due by the end of the year, he said.

    NEXT: The JMR Vision, From the Outside In

    Previous stories on JMR:
    Pentagon, Army Developing Next-Generation Helicopter Fleet (9 January 2012)

    For more information on the DASA for Research & Technology, visit https://www.alt.army.mil/portal/page/portal/oasaalt/SAAL-ZT.


    • KRIS OSBORN is a Highly Qualified Expert for the Assistant Secretary of the Army for Acquisition, Logistics, and Technology Office of Strategic Communications. He holds a B.A. in English and political science from Kenyon College and an M.A. in comparative literature from Columbia University.

    Read more »
  • Pentagon, Army Developing Next-Generation Helicopter Fleet

    Kris Osborn

    The Pentagon and the Army are in the early stages of a far-reaching science and technology (S&T) effort to engineer, build, and deliver a next-generation helicopter with vastly improved avionics, electronics, range, speed, propulsion, survivability, operating density altitudes, and payload capacity. In a series of five articles, Access AL&T looks in detail at what this program is intended to accomplish and how industry is contributing.

    AMRDEC conceptual renderings of potential future JMR configurations. (U.S. Army images by AMRDEC.)

    The Army-led Joint Multi-Role (JMR) program is a broadly scoped Pentagon endeavor representing the Office of the Secretary of Defense (OSD), the military services, the U.S. Coast Guard, the U.S. Special Operations Command, and NASA, among others. The goal of the JMR S&T demonstrator program is to leverage the S&T needed to successfully design and engineer a new Air Vehicle and influence the development of a program of record, service officials explained.

    “Our overall philosophy, from a program perspective, is to leverage what we are learning from the user communities and establish what technologies will provide the desired new capability. Right now the Future Vertical Lift community is working on developing the capabilities document,” said Ned Chase, Chief, Platform Technology Division, Aviation Applied Technology Directorate (AATD), Fort Eustis, VA, and S&T Lead for the JMR Technology Demonstrator Program. AATD is an element of the U.S. Army Aviation & Missile Research, Development, and Engineering Center (AMRDEC), Redstone Arsenal, AL.

    Sustained speeds in excess of 170 knots, an overall combat range greater than 800 kilometers (with a combat radius of 424 kilometers), and hovering with a full combat load under high and/or hot conditions (at an altitude of 6,000 feet and a temperature of 95 degrees Fahrenheit) are among the many capabilities sought for the JMR.

    Plans for the next-generation aircraft also include a degree of autonomous flight capability, or being “optionally manned”; successful weapons integration and compatibility; a core common architecture in terms of next-generation electronics, sensors, and onboard avionics; manned-unmanned teaming; and shipboard compatibility.

    “We’re trying to create a vision,” Chase said, by looking beyond current force technology and identifying possible next-generation solutions in a variety of areas including propulsion, airframe materials, rotor systems, engine technology, survivability equipment, and mission systems, among others.

    The JMR program seeks an approved initial capabilities document and to begin designing several demonstrator aircraft by 2013, then to conduct a first flight in 2017. The program is part of the Pentagon’s Joint Future Vertical Lift (JFVL) effort, aimed at identifying the realm of the possible in future aircraft and helicopter capabilities. DoD plans to begin fielding a new fleet of next-generation helicopters by 2030.

    “The JMR Program is a key part of our strategy to modernize vertical lift capability long-term. With current budget pressures, it is critical that a strong industry-government-academia team be fleshing out the technology enablers in integrated, relevant contexts to establish a solid case for both the operational and fiscal benefits of these advanced aircraft,” said Army Chief Scientist Dr. Scott Fish.

    “This team will be leveraging not only lessons learned from recent conflicts, but a broad spectrum of Army and DoD basic and applied research investments made in areas which include: engine and driveline efficiency and cost reduction, advanced materials including polymeric and metal matrix composites, sensor/weapon/other payload integration cost reduction, and very-high-performance aerodynamic and reliability modeling and simulation. These investments position us well for risk and cost reduction in our vertical lift endeavors,” Fish said.

    Planned mission sets for the JMR include cargo, utility, armed scout, attack, humanitarian, medical evacuation, anti-submarine warfare, anti-surface warfare, land/sea search and rescue, special warfare support, vertical replenishment, and airborne mine countermeasures.

    The JMR Technology Demonstrator effort has two distinct, measurable phases.

    Phase 1 includes an 18-month configuration and trades analysis (CT&A) designed to explore technological possibilities for a new platform or Air Vehicle. It also includes the design, fabrication, and test of several demonstrator aircraft. Phase 2 will focus on trade studies and the development of mission systems.

    The idea is to build several technology demonstrator helicopters as a way of refining and informing the requirements for the new aircraft, requirements that are likely to evolve as technologies mature and emerge.

    “Our overall philosophy, from a program perspective, is to leverage what we are learning from the user communities and establish what technologies will provide the desired new capability. Right now the Future Vertical Lift community is working on developing the capabilities document.”

    While the JMR program initially will focus on medium-lift options, the overarching JFVL efforts span four classes of future aircraft, including light, medium, and heavy lift variants, and an ultra-class category designed for a new fleet of super-heavy lift aircraft. The ultra-class aircraft, described as a C-130 type of transport aircraft, will lift, transport, and maneuver large vehicles around the battlefield, such as Strykers and Mine Resistant Ambush Protected vehicles. It is part of an Army-Air Force collaborative S&T effort, led by the Air Force, called Joint Future Theater Lift.

    The JFVL effort, which includes both the JMR acquisition program and the JMR Technology Demonstrator effort, is designed to incorporate findings from a series of OSD-led studies and analyses on future vertical lift directed by the Secretary of Defense in 2009, including a Rotorcraft Survivability Study, a Capabilities Based Assessment, an S&T plan, and a strategic plan.

    “We’re doing these trade studies to figure out the best way to optimize aircraft. We are working very closely with our user committees, who have identified the types of capabilities they would like these future aircraft to have,” Chase added.

    Building a new aircraft from the ground up is part of an overall strategic effort to harness the best new technologies, allow for the platform to be upgraded as new technologies emerge, integrate systems into a common architecture, and, perhaps most important, drive down costs. The idea is that some of these novel ideas may not only drive down the acquisition cost, but also allow much easier and cheaper incorporation of upgrades to the aircraft and its systems.

    With a clean-sheet design, it may be possible to incorporate from the beginning new technologies, new concepts, new processes, or even old ones that could not win their way onto fielded platforms.

    With the CT&A studies, Army S&T has taken the lead in exploring the operational benefit and technical feasibility of advanced vertical lift air vehicles, working in concert with the Army’s acquisition and requirements communities, said Mac Dinning, AMRDEC Aviation Liaison to the Office of the Assistant Secretary of the Army for Acquisition, Logistics, and Technology.

    “While this program is currently wholly funded by the Army, other services are actively participating to define and develop a Joint Service Air Vehicle system that might replace the existing Black Hawk/Seahawk and Apache medium fleet aircraft,” Dinning said.

    NEXT: Industry Teams at Work on JMR

    For more information on the DASA for Research & Technology, visit https://www.alt.army.mil/portal/page/portal/oasaalt/SAAL-ZT.


    • KRIS OSBORN is a Highly Qualified Expert for the Assistant Secretary of the Army for Acquisition, Logistics, and Technology Office of Strategic Communications. He holds a B.A. in English and political science from Kenyon College and an M.A. in comparative literature from Columbia University.

    Read more »