Next-Generation Equipment Eyed for New Helicopter
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 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.