Army’s New Helos Will Be Designed With Spec Ops in Mind

Army aviation officials, including several from the special operations side of the house, last week revealed that the special operations community will have a say in the design of the next generation of Army choppers.

When asked last week during an army aviation conference sponsored by the Association of the U.S. Army last week if the Army’s 160th Special Operations Aviation Regiment will get its own tricked out version of the service’s new armed aerial scout (AAS) chopper, Col. Vincent Reap, deputy commander of the 160th said no, but:

Attributes of being faster are certainly better, a lesser signature is better whether that signature be acoustic, visual or other [think radar and infrared evading stealth tech].

Whether or not SOF [special operations forces] would see that as a requirement peculiar from what the Army is looking at for its AAS, I don’t think that is necessarily true. Even were it true, certainly we believe that SOF wouldn’t be able to afford it. SOCOM and its resourcing authority does not stand to be able to build an aircraft that would be unique and sort of disparate from what the Army would do.

In short, no, but the more detailed answer would be a discussion and sharing of the particular requirements that SOF would see for rotary wing fire support platforms tied very closely with the Army as it needs to do and perhaps modify as necessary.

While the 160th — and from what Reap said, big Army aviation — are hoping to get a faster, stealthier scout chopper, it will be interesting to see how that requirement plays out against the services planned demo of existing choppers that could be pressed into service as the next gen scout. All of the birds slated to fly in that effort are existing airframes that don’t offer a huge leap ahead in speed and stealth. Then again, they could be modified for the 160th like the stealth Black Hawks that were used for the raid on Osama bin Laden’s compound last year.

Enter special ops contributions to the Joint Multirole Rotorcraft (JMR) effort:

As soon as Reap was done speaking, his fellow aviator, Col. Charles Yomant — who has the vague title of Director, Army Compartmented Element, United States Army Special Operations Command — said that the Army’s SOF community is making sure spec ops capabilities are included in the service’s effort to develop a next-generation family of helos under the Joint Multirole Rotorcraft project.

“We’re working very closely with [Maj. Gen. Anthony Crutchfield’s] team on inserting our requirements into the future vertical lift, JMR, program so that they’re built into the platform up front.

Crutchfield himself then chimed in, saying that a SOF aviator is working with his team at Fort Rucker, Ala., to make sure that JMR is developed with special operations missions in mind.

What we need to do is do what we’re saying right now; make sure as we’re laying out requirements for the future vertical lift that it includes what SOF aviation needs. Even in the end state, there will be special packages on that same airframe, every aircraft will not be outfitted as a special operations aircraft. But, if we don’t share requirements, we don’t share ideas now, I think it will be too late in the end when we get to 2030.

Again, we are including the requirements of special operations aviation [in the JMR effort] which I’m not sure we’ve done a good job of in the past.

This last sentence is very interesting since JMR, or potentially AAS, would mark the first time a brand new Army helo is designed from the ground up to accomodate SOF missions. Think about it, the entire Army spec ops aviation fleet is made up of modified designs  — MH-60s, MH-6s and MH-47s — that predate the 160th SOAR.

(The image above are Army concepts of what JMR might look like)


16 Comments on "Army’s New Helos Will Be Designed With Spec Ops in Mind"

  1. It's time to Brushoff the the Sikorsky S-67 blackhawk and the AH-56 cheyenne.

  2. stephen russell | January 19, 2012 at 8:16 pm | Reply

    Reuse supercopter Airwolf from 80s TV show?
    Id add NOTAR to those designs alone.
    & make some Fighter support & Airlift Carrier models.

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  4. So… stealth v-22?

  5. Comanche? The sooner you bring it back, the cheaper t'll get.

  6. Agre with StrumPanzer I don't think a transport helo comes to mind which works better than a Blackhawk and is meant just for spec Ops which would also work for regular troops. And making a gunship out of it, is retarded.

    You cant have a all modular helicopter a gunships a gunship and a transport is a different creature more DoD dollars wasted by idiots in the Army think tank.

  7. There are so many reasons to dismiss a stealthy full size helicopter.

    Acoustics, wind disturbance, IR, radar doppler off the blades.

  8. Is'nt the one at the top the U.S.M.C Ossprey? If it is, I hope their not sticking special ops in it, because the enemy will see the smoke and fire of the wreckage from mies away.

  9. Multi-function airframe with COMPONENT packages should be the 21st Century solution.
    This would allow the same basic design to be modified for various roles depending on mission, environment and capabilities of specific units. The other determining requirement should be a maintenance man hours to flight time ratio that will keep the new bird in the air LONGER than the Blackhawk.
    Input from ALL branches of the military should also be part of the R & D portion of the design process. What we're really looking for is a replacement for the Black Hawk that can withstand the stress of continual combat operations in a variety of environments from jungles, to desert, to mountains, extremes of heat & cold etc.
    Composite materials that are stronger, yet lighter will make this bird more expensive to produce in its early models. The pay off will be the success of the design and its widespread production numbers across the DoD spectrum.

  10. The Regular Army Old timers must NOT be happy….

    Special Ops is moving to front of the line, eh?

  11. Why does the Army need a scout chopper & UAV's? Why can't UAV's scout for the gunships?

  12. While we're proposing new "spec ops in mind" helicopters, let's throw in an ACH-47 again. Would Roberts Ridge have played out differently if there was an additional Chinook that could throw down like Mike Tyson?

  13. I think Coaxial rotorcraft with duct fan is good.

  14. trinulationtime | January 22, 2012 at 1:39 pm | Reply

    Why doesn´t V-22 Osprey is the benchmark to be upgrade/development?. She is fast, more payload, longer endurance, high altitude capable, operation procedures knowed, maintenance personel trained and fly crew too.

  15. Kim Wolfersperger | January 24, 2012 at 3:50 am | Reply

    I beleive more operational problems have caused a stifling effect on continued use of this baby.All the pr makes it look good but only a select few see the real life progress and use …this airframe will soon be on its way to the museum or the reserves..

  16. That is about as modular as I think is necessary. Any more modular and we have weird stuff like the LCS and the JSF which still aren't getting off the ground.

    A Skycrane with a personnel carrier module does not make a Chinook.

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