Military Review

To replace UH-60 helicopters. FLRAA Program (USA)


Bell V-280 Valor Convertor

Currently, in the interests of the US ground forces, the Future Long-Range Assault Aircraft (FLRAA) program is being implemented, the goal of which is to create a new high-speed aircraft for the army. aviation... Part of the necessary work has already been completed and experimental equipment is being tested. In addition, organizational issues are being addressed.

Requirements for the future

So far, within the framework of FLRAA, only general requirements for promising technology have been developed and approved, according to which experimental aircraft have already been created. A detailed technical assignment defining the appearance of serial equipment for the army will appear only in the foreseeable future. However, work on its creation is already underway.

In early October, the Army Requirements Oversight Council (AROC) tentatively approved a development plan for the FLRAA program for the coming years. In the near future, it was planned to officially formalize all the documents necessary to continue the work. Then the development of a full-fledged "request for opportunities" will begin, in accordance with which new equipment will be developed for the series and the army.

They plan to form the request before the end of the calendar year. The details of the army's requirements have not yet been disclosed, but the main approaches have been announced. It is planned to create a transport-combat vehicle with broad capabilities for transporting people and using weapons, with the emphasis on the latter. Specialists will have to determine the required level of flight performance, the composition of onboard equipment and weapons, etc.

When working out plans and requirements, the Pentagon will have to take into account the existing level of technology development. In this he will be helped by experimental projects recently brought to flight tests. It is expected that the technology demonstrator companies will further take part in the competitive development of a full-fledged combat vehicle.

Experimental record

In parallel with the solution of organizational issues, testing of flight prototypes continues, and regularly appear news about records. Thus, Sikorsky and Boeing continue to fly the SB> 1 Defiant helicopter. The main goal is to gradually increase the level flight speed, reaching the level of 250 knots (463 km / h). Customer requirements for technology demonstrators stipulate a cruising speed of 230 knots (426 km / h).

In June, it was reported that the experienced SB> 1 accelerated to 205 knots (380 km / h). On October 12, a new "record" flight took place. The prototype developed a speed of 211 knots (391 km / h), and for this only two-thirds of the engine power and thrust of the carrier system were used. Using the full potential of the engine and propellers will provide a further increase in flight performance. However, the exact dates for setting new records have not yet been announced.

Helicopter Sikorsky Boeing SB> 1 Defiant

In this case, SB> 1 from Sikorsky and Boeing is in the position of catching up. A competing technology demonstrator, the Bell V-280 Valor tiltrotor, reached a maximum speed of 300 knots (556 km / h) back in March. With a gain in time, Bell can continue to develop the project, gaining certain advantages over a competitor.

Engine progress

Work is now being completed on the FATE (Future Affordable Turbine Engine) program, which aims to create technologies for the further development of turboshaft engines. Motors with new components and solutions can be used in modernization projects or in the creation of new aviation equipment, incl. aircraft FLRAA.

On October 13th, General Electric Aviation announced its latest FATE successes. Tests were carried out on two engines of unnamed types, modified using new components. In fact, all the main engine units have undergone an update: the inlet filter, air intake, combustion chamber and turbine. The engines ran 130 hours on the bench. During the tests, 2200 different characteristics were measured.

GE Aviation argues that the developed FATE technologies can be used not only when upgrading existing engines, but also when developing completely new ones. Such an engine will be 45% cheaper than the previous generation product in production and operation. The design life will increase by 20%. The increase in specific power will be 80%, and the specific consumption will be reduced by 25%.

Several modifications of existing engines have already been developed using new technologies. They have been brought to the test and are being prepared for introduction into mass operation. New engine models are also expected to be used in the FLRAA project. With their help, full-fledged transport and combat vehicles will be able to combine the flight data of experimental samples with the required load, etc.

Waiting for the competition

Existing projects and aircraft demonstrators of technologies made it possible to work out the main issues of creating promising aviation technology and find the necessary solutions. Now the Pentagon must work out the final version of the tactical and technical requirements, after which it will announce a competition for development.

The RFP, which gives a start to competitive development, is expected in the first half of 2021. It is assumed that companies already involved in the FLRAA program will participate in it, but the possibility of other organizations joining is not excluded. Project comparison, winner selection and contract signing will take place in FY2022. - after October 2021 calendar year.

This will be followed by the development of a technical design and the construction of experimental aircraft. Flight tests are planned to begin in the spring or summer of 2026. No later than 2028, it is planned to start mass production. The first FLRAA aircraft unit will reach initial operational readiness in 2030.

Replacement plans

The FLRAA program is part of the larger Future Vertical Lift (FVL). The goal of FVL is to develop fundamentally new types of aviation technology, showing significant advantages over existing ones. Serial helicopters and / or new types of convertiplanes should appear in 2028-30. and then replace the existing helicopter technology in the Air Force and Marine Corps.

To replace UH-60 helicopters. FLRAA Program (USA)
Possible FATE Engine Skin

At the expense of FLRAA, it is planned to replace the aging UH-60 helicopters, which have remained in service for more than 40 years. At the moment, only in the army aviation there are more than 2100 of these helicopters in various modifications, and a comparable amount of new equipment is required to replace them. Thus, the winner of the competition will receive large and lucrative contracts.

By now, FVL and FLRAA have passed the early stages and are preparing to move to new stages. Flight prototypes have been developed and tested, and various systems and units are being created in parallel. In the coming years, experimental vehicles of new models will appear, and then they will choose equipment for supplying the army.

On the whole, the situation in both programs looks good and is conducive to optimistic forecasts. However, the implementation of existing plans to replace obsolete helicopters will be quite long and expensive. Time will show whether it will be possible to complete the work by 2030 and keep the cost of the program within reasonable limits.
Photos used:
Bell Textron, Sikorsky / Lockheed Martin, GE Aviation
Dear reader, to leave comments on the publication, you must to register.

I have an account? Sign in

  1. OgnennyiKotik
    OgnennyiKotik 20 October 2020 18: 06 New
    As part of the Future Vertical Lift (FVL), a good option was adopted by a single unified Sikorsky X2 vehicle in the transport (SB> 1 DEFIANT), shock-reconnaissance (Raider-X) and shock version (shock S-97 RAIDER). Well, of course, in an unmanned version, in particular for the ILC, they need a car to accompany the Osprey.
  2. Mister X
    Mister X 20 October 2020 18: 07 New
    However, the exact dates for setting new records have not yet been announced.
    Author: Kirill Ryabov

    That's why he is a record that is announced suddenly.
    As a result of trial, error, disaster ...
    As it was at the time with the Bell V-22 Osprey
    1. OgnennyiKotik
      OgnennyiKotik 20 October 2020 18: 26 New
      They also have an unmanned V-247 in their plans. This is how I understand the continuation of 280.
      1. Mister X
        Mister X 20 October 2020 20: 10 New
        Quote: OgnennyiKotik
        They also have an unmanned V-247 in their plans.

        The music is, of course, funny in the video ...
        Your video is more recent, but the car has fixed fenders.
        Previously, a layout was demonstrated, in which the blades were folded, and the wing rotated along the fuselage.
        Deck modification, it seems.
        1. OgnennyiKotik
          OgnennyiKotik 20 October 2020 20: 19 New
          In 23-25, the KMP plans to purchase a vertical take-off and landing drone. Range and speed must be greater than or equal to Osprey. They are preparing for this contract.
          1. Mister X
            Mister X 20 October 2020 20: 46 New
            Quote: OgnennyiKotik
            Range and speed must be greater than or equal to Osprey

            Here are its estimated parameters from the manufacturer's website.
            Below are the drones of the future on the deck of the ship.
            It looks a bit like the LHA-7 Tripoli helicopter carrier.

          2. yehat2
            yehat2 21 October 2020 14: 15 New
            judging by the layout, this model has the same shortcomings as the osprey, which are largely solved by the valor. I don't understand why this was done at the exhibition - it's bullshit!
            1. OgnennyiKotik
              OgnennyiKotik 21 October 2020 14: 19 New
              It doesn't matter. These exhibitions are for public relations among the masses, real models and prototypes are shown closed.
  3. yehat2
    yehat2 21 October 2020 13: 46 New
    The Bell V-280 Valor is the first car from the USA in the last 20 years that really impressed me.
    it is gorgeous both in terms of concept and in terms of engineering solutions and in terms of actual operation, in contrast to the osprey.
    1. OgnennyiKotik
      OgnennyiKotik 21 October 2020 14: 22 New
      Quote: yehat2
      engineering solutions

      Again, it will be necessary to bring the car into operation, like the X2, but the design of the X2 is simpler and more reliable and if the systems fail, there is less likelihood of fatalities, in my opinion.
      1. yehat2
        yehat2 21 October 2020 14: 25 New
        Operation of Osprey has already outlined all the inconvenient moments, a bunch of instructions on how to avoid it have been written.
        I think that Valor will have much less difficulties and unforeseen tricks
        1. OgnennyiKotik
          OgnennyiKotik 21 October 2020 14: 33 New
          Osprey was fine-tuned, but the price was high.
          In my opinion, both Osprey and Valor have engines too vulnerable to enemy fire. For Osprey this is not critical, for valor it is already. Disabling the engine on the Valor will lead to its disaster, X2 will be able to more or less sit down.
          1. yehat2
            yehat2 21 October 2020 14: 40 New
            Quote: OgnennyiKotik
            Engine failure on valor

            the question is not so simple. At Valor, the engines do not turn and are theoretically more tenacious,
            but at the same time the rotary transmission mechanism to the screw is more vulnerable.
            But I glimpsed that they somehow solved the problem of landing on one engine if the crash was low. By the way, osprey is not brought to mind.
  4. cmax
    cmax 22 October 2020 19: 32 New
    Against the background of such news, you understand how far they went in comparison with us. Electronics, new engines, design. The level is an order of magnitude higher - everything. The Americans have always been distinguished by their analytics and intelligence, unfortunately. What can not be said about Russia, a country where the Millers, Sechins, Ragozins, Grefs, Chubais play the leading roles. Pancake.