Military Review

New member of the FVL program. US Navy wants to get a new helicopter

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Attack helicopter MH-60R launches a guided missile. Photo by US Navy


The US Navy is beginning to search for a promising helicopter that will be able to replace existing equipment in the distant future. The new prototype will have to take over the duties of the MH-60 helicopters and the MQ-8 unmanned aerial vehicles. To fulfill such plans, the Navy pays attention to the Future Vertical Lift program.

Obsolescence processes


Currently, the US Navy is armed with more than 500 SH-60 / MH-60 Seahawk helicopters of several modifications. The first samples of this family entered service in the mid-eighties; in the future, the fleet received modernized and improved vehicles. Helicopters of this line are capable of transporting people and cargo, fighting surface targets, solving anti-submarine defense tasks, performing search and rescue, etc.

Since the mid-8s, the American fleet has been operating a helicopter-type UAV MQ-50 Fire Scout. In the ranks is approx. 8 similar complexes of several modifications. With the help of the MQ-XNUMX, ships can carry out surveillance and reconnaissance, as well as carry out strikes against surface and coastal targets using a controlled weapons.


Reconnaissance and strike UAV MQ-8B. Photo by US Navy

So far, SH / MH-60 helicopters and MQ-8 UAVs meet the requirements of the Navy, and systematic modernization and regular repairs allow them to be kept in service. However, in the distant future, they will need to be replaced. It is proposed to start this process and to partially complete it in the thirties.

Request for Proposals


A few years ago, it was reported that the US Navy was studying the prospects aviation technology and is looking for ways to further develop the helicopter fleet. At the level of rumors and unconfirmed data, the possibility of cooperation with the ground forces and the air force, already developing their new projects, was mentioned.

Now the situation has cleared up. In late January, the Navy issued a request for proposals on a promising vertical takeoff aircraft. Until mid-April, the fleet wants to receive information from aircraft manufacturers, study the available opportunities and draw conclusions. In case of a positive conclusion, contracts will appear for the development and construction of new equipment.


Experienced Bell V-280 Valor tiltrotor for the FLRAA program. Bell Textron Photos

According to the request, the new model of equipment for the Navy should show characteristics no worse than the existing SH / MH-60 and MQ-8 and solve the same problems. He must carry people and goods, carry various equipment and weapons, etc. In addition, the potential for the introduction of new functions is needed - this is associated with the development of a potential adversary and the associated risks.

From an existing program


According to foreign media reports, in search of a new helicopter, the Navy can join the Army's Future Vertical Lift program and take part in further work on one of its projects. Thus, the Air Force and Army Aviation also plan to replace their UH-60 helicopters in the future. For this, the Future Long-Range Assault Aircraft (FLRAA) competition was launched, within the framework of which several interesting machines have already been created.

There are two projects currently participating in the FLRAA competition. Bell offers the V-280 Valor tiltrotor, while Sikorsky and Boeing recently unveiled the Defiant X high-speed helicopter project. The Pentagon is inviting new organizations with their designs to participate in the program, but the number of contestants will apparently not change.


Valor over the battlefield. Bell Textron Graphics

If the Navy does indeed join the FVL and FLRAA programs, very interesting developments are possible. Bell, Sikorsky and Boeing are expected to show interest in the request fleet and offer him their projects. Due to the special operating conditions at sea, the projects must undergo certain revisions. However, exact data on this score are not yet available.

Some questions are left by the desire of the Navy to replace helicopter-type drones. Apparently, their tasks are going to be transferred to manned aircraft. Perhaps the fleet is taking into account trends in the development of technology and plans to use hypothetical possibilities to transform a manned helicopter into a vehicle with remote or autonomous control. Similar developments are taking place in the FVL and FLRAA projects.

Applicants for victory


The Navy will be accepting applications until mid-April, at which time it will become clear which companies are competing for future contracts. Most likely, everything will really be limited to rethinking the current FLRAA program, taking into account the interests and requirements of the naval forces.


Proposed look for the Defiant X. Sikorsky / Boeing graphics

V-280 and Defiant X are built according to different schemes and differ significantly from each other. The architecture and dimensions of the vehicles can affect their operation on ships. Thus, a high-speed helicopter can be equipped with a blade folding system for storage in a ship's hangar. The tiltrotor diameter is determined by the wingspan, which is why the adaptation of the V-280 project to the requirements of the Navy can be more difficult and time-consuming.

The Sikorsky / Boeing project uses a twin-screw pine carrier system and a pusher propeller, while Bell used rotary nacelles with main / pulling propellers. The US Navy has experience with tiltrotors, but never used the original three-propeller combination. This factor can also affect the choice of technique.

By its flight performance, carrying capacity, capacity, etc. the two FLRAA machines look alike. It should be borne in mind that the V-280 Valor is being successfully tested and is gradually approaching the maximum design parameters. The rival Defiant X has so far been presented only in promotional material, and the prototype has probably not even been built yet. However, previous experimental vehicles showed good results - although they did not reach the level of the V-280 from Bell.


Defiant X in flight. Sikorsky / Boeing graphics

The Navy wants to assign a wide range of tasks to new aircraft. Transport, combat and other capabilities of equipment are determined by equipment and carrying capacity. What specific requirements of this kind will be has not yet been announced.

The Navy's choice may also be influenced by the outcome of the Army's FLRAA program. The Pentagon is due to issue the final RFP this year, which will kickstart the final phase of the program. After that, the participating companies will present the final versions of their projects, and the army will be able to choose the most successful one. The winner of the FLRAA competition has every chance of getting a contract from the fleet. In addition, the Navy can join the program along with the army and participate in the selection of a single winner.

Reserve for the future


The US military is planning a major upgrade of its helicopter fleet. Obsolete vehicles of the UH / HH / SH / MH-60 family are supposed to be removed from service and replaced with a promising model with improved flight performance. The army and the Air Force are paying special attention to this issue, and now the fleet is planning to join the general work.

Thus, in the distant future, all the US armed forces will abandon the Black Hawk and Seahawk families in favor of completely new models. However, with all the progress observed, the processes of re-equipping troops will begin only in the thirties. The Navy has enough time to evaluate and choose, or to develop a completely new project. And at the moment we are talking only about accepting applications and collecting information - from which all new projects begin.
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  1. Proxima
    Proxima 8 February 2021 18: 09
    -11%
    Oh, these tiltrotors! The topic has been procrastinating for more than half a century! fellow And any air designer will tell you that there are no miracles in the world. request This hybrid monster greatly falls short of the characteristics of a helicopter and as an airplane it is a complete g ... but. negative
    1. OgnennyiKotik
      OgnennyiKotik 8 February 2021 18: 29
      +8
      You are fundamentally mistaken. All Osprey childhood illnesses have been resolved. The ILC, the Air Force and the Navy are delighted. Osprey completely replaces the C-2 Greyhound on aircraft carriers, surpassing it in all relevant parameters. For the ILC, it is simply an irreplaceable machine, very useful for the Air Force. The only thing I think is that they are not suitable for the Army (they are not there). Osprey released in quantity 400+ for 2020... Such a series for most classmates in helicopters and airplanes simply did not dream.
      On the way of a UAV, a tiltrotor for the ILC.
      1. ProkletyiPirat
        ProkletyiPirat 8 February 2021 20: 12
        -3
        Quote: OgnennyiKotik
        All Osprey childhood illnesses have been resolved.

        Osprey does not have so many "childhood" diseases, it has the main problems in the aircraft layout, first of all, this is the location of the engines that creates tons of hemorrhoids, mainly in the field of gas-dynamic stability and, as a result, problems with reliability and traction. For tiltrotors (on the meringue of the rotor), the engines (namely the SU and not the propulsion unit) should be in the center of the wing above the fuselage, only there it is possible to place powerful air filters and get rid of burnout of turbines due to gas dynamics disturbance.
  2. OgnennyiKotik
    OgnennyiKotik 8 February 2021 18: 19
    +10
    So far, SH / MH-60 helicopters and MQ-8 UAVs meet the requirements of the Navy, and systematic modernization and regular repairs allow them to be kept in service.

    Recently, the MQ-8C was equipped with an ASW buoy launch system. They can also be used to launch kamikaze drones.

    The tiltrotor diameter is determined by the wingspan, which is why the adaptation of the V-280 project to the requirements of the Navy can be more difficult and time-consuming.

    There is no problem with that.

    The rival Defiant X has so far been presented only in promotional material, and the prototype has probably not even been built yet.

    False information both prototypes were flying, Defiant X just got a new update. The V-280 started earlier and had a head start.


    The desire of the Navy to replace helicopter-type drones leaves some questions. Apparently, their tasks are going to be transferred to manned aircraft. Perhaps the fleet is taking into account trends in the development of technology and plans to use hypothetical possibilities to transform a manned helicopter into a vehicle with remote or autonomous control.

    All military aircraft projects that are planned for launch in the US in the 30s will be optionally unmanned. This does not mean replacing completely unmanned vehicles. Both MQ-8s were hastily converted from production helicopters, it is logical that specially designed unmanned helicopters would be more effective.

  3. gridasov
    gridasov 8 February 2021 18: 26
    0
    You can have different attitudes to how these designers are going to solve problematic issues. Despite the fact that for about fifteen years now I have been looking for people who are ready to consider the concept of not a modernized screw or a propeller, but, in principle, a new propeller
    1. Intruder
      Intruder 8 February 2021 19: 31
      +1
      Despite the fact that for about fifteen years now I have been looking for people who are ready to consider the concept of not a modernized screw or a propeller, but, in principle, a new propeller
      can you in a personal, please !? and more ...!?
      1. ProkletyiPirat
        ProkletyiPirat 8 February 2021 20: 14
        +4
        what are you an engineer? just Gridasov, such a Gridasov ... and his stream of consciousness ... in general, the old-timers know ...
      2. Undecim
        Undecim 8 February 2021 20: 56
        +4
        can you in a personal, please !? and more ...!?
        Gridasovsky bot will take out all your brains.
        1. gridasov
          gridasov 8 February 2021 22: 59
          +1
          I still don’t accept that you offer people a fundamental solution to one of the problems, and they write you into bots.
          1. Undecim
            Undecim 8 February 2021 23: 10
            +4
            I still don’t accept that you offer people a fundamental solution to one of the problems, and they write you into bots.
            This is not the worst option, it could be worse.
            1. gridasov
              gridasov 9 February 2021 00: 15
              +2
              You are absolutely right! Many do not understand this.
        2. gridasov
          gridasov 9 February 2021 12: 10
          +1
          There will be no details! He simply solved the mathematical aspects of continuity of continuous media at their dynamic flow and solved engineering and design issues in which flow stall is impossible. In other words, completely new algorithms for providing physical processes in a turbine as such and, accordingly, completely new according to the principle of operation of all devices for transforming the flows of these continuous media.
  4. Cowbra
    Cowbra 8 February 2021 18: 27
    -12%
    At the level of rumors and unconfirmed data, the possibility of cooperation with the ground forces and the air force, already developing their new projects, was mentioned.

    It seems that they already had experience in basing an initially land helicopter on ships? I remember that he at sea rusted to the state of a sieve for a year. Galloping on the old rake again?
    And about drones:
    It's funny that since the first unmanned helicopters - the American anti-submarine system "DESH" back in the 1970s, their main problem was the high accident rate.
    And they still cannot solve this problem even on land:

    October, China.
    1. OgnennyiKotik
      OgnennyiKotik 8 February 2021 18: 34
      +6
      Quote: Cowbra
      It seems that they already had experience in basing an initially land helicopter on ships?

      Hello, they are thinking about a replacement SH-60 / MH-60 Seahawk closer to the 30s. This is the naval version of the UH-60 Black Hawk ("Black Hawk"). The entire article is devoted to this. And there are no problems you described with them and unmanned helicopters, everything is super.
      1. Cowbra
        Cowbra 8 February 2021 18: 45
        -7
        Quote: OgnennyiKotik
        Ale

        Hello Hello...
        Representatives of the US Navy, for which the MH-60S Knighthawk was developed, in the report note that "manufacturing defects" were found not only in this modification, but also in several other MH-60 helicopters.

        2004 year.
        And as far as drones are accident-free - they certainly haven't kicked it in the tooth yet
        1. Avior
          Avior 8 February 2021 19: 12
          +9
          It's like 2020, not 2004.
          Again, a manufacturing defect is a fault of the helicopter's manufacturing, not its design. Corrected and forgotten.
          And even more so not to the state of the sieve. They have MH-60 in the fleet for decades.
          1. Cowbra
            Cowbra 8 February 2021 19: 47
            -10%
            Well, yes, the rake is a little fresher, although it is still there. But the floor is allanother thing! other rake so - you can!
  5. Alexey Zigalov
    Alexey Zigalov 11 February 2021 23: 16
    0
    Kirill thanks more for the article and analysis. The coaxial scheme, like tiltroplanes, is a diversion, a false trail.