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

by John Reed on January 19, 2012

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)

 

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{ 48 comments… read them below or add one }

StrumPanzer January 19, 2012 at 6:33 pm

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

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stephen russell January 19, 2012 at 8:16 pm

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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catherine January 19, 2012 at 9:40 pm

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p.s. The admirers of those uniformed person are also warmly welcome, there are lots of servicemen and women.

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Nick January 20, 2012 at 1:11 am

What the?

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blight January 20, 2012 at 9:22 am

Don't you get it? Catherine is a military guy. This can only end strangely.

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chaos0xomega January 19, 2012 at 11:20 pm

So… stealth v-22?

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fromage January 21, 2012 at 10:33 am

Why stop there? Transmat devices will do all that and more.

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blight January 19, 2012 at 11:31 pm

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

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Nick January 20, 2012 at 1:13 am

Mmm Comanche. I had an idea for a stretched Rah-66, with a tail boom rotor, like a stealth chinook. I can dream cant I?

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joe January 20, 2012 at 3:19 am

I was going to say.
The moment I read "Army aviation — are hoping to get a faster, stealthier scout chopper", my first response was "didn't we kill that already?"

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WarPony January 20, 2012 at 8:38 am

almost totally, but not before spending every dime in it's budget, then killing it at the last minute

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HiPowerGuy December 5, 2012 at 7:05 am

Yea, we only spent $18 BILLION and 20 yrs before we killed it!! Wanna bet NOTHING is used from that program!!! hahahahahhahahaha DEFICIT…..really now :-).

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Lance January 20, 2012 at 12:14 am

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.

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Nick January 20, 2012 at 1:14 am

Its ok, I heard its an F-35 B with a helicopter blade instead of a lift fan. We’re saved.

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JRL January 20, 2012 at 2:38 pm

Hmm… I wonder how many 'operators' you could stuff into the bomb bay of a 'Bee"?

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major.rod January 20, 2012 at 1:19 am

Tthe article mentions nothing about a modular aircraft. It does say that special ops needs will be integrated at the ground level in the development of any new helicopter.

BTW, TF160 uses the Blackhawk in both the troop passenger and attack mode when little birds aren't enough.

Seems the idiot isn't in the Army think tank.

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blight January 20, 2012 at 9:19 am

There isn't much said about the Direct Action Penetrator variant of the UH-60.

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fromage January 21, 2012 at 10:36 am
AlC January 20, 2012 at 1:32 am

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

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

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Thomas L. Nielsen January 20, 2012 at 3:30 am

There are degrees of stealth. While a rotorcraft might not achieve B2, "getting-to-Moscow-and-back-undetected" levels of stealth, it might get "getting-30-miles-closer-to-the-objective-before-you're-detected" stealth, and that just might be enough for the mission at hand.

Regards & all,

Thomas L. Nielsen
Luxembourg

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tperk January 20, 2012 at 5:27 am

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.

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Dfens January 20, 2012 at 10:54 am

What, you mean the same Osprey that is the safest rotorcraft in USMC inventory with over 130,000 flight hours in theater now?

THAT Osprey?

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major.rod January 20, 2012 at 2:07 pm

The Osprey has been in use by special ops. The Air Force flies a slightly different version specifically for special ops It has larger tanks among other tidbits.

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TBC January 20, 2012 at 5:16 pm

You must be one of the stupid military watchers that never served a day and especially a day in an aviation unit and know absolutely nothing about aircraft of any kind and especially the Osprey.

When you become more knowledgeable and wiser on the subject it will be OK to speak otherwise you reveal your stupidity by opening your mouth or typing on a keyboard.

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LemG51 January 20, 2012 at 10:42 am

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.

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major.rod January 20, 2012 at 2:12 pm

Don't think pulling every branch into development is the answer. Advice sure. Full partner? No. "Joint" projects don't have a good history. The Army flies by far the most helos of all the services. We don't need to slow things down. The other services can choose to go with it and make adjustments like they did with the Blackhawk or adopt something different which hasn't happened in 50 years when the Marines/Navy chose the Sea Stalion instead of the Chinook.

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HiPowerGuy December 5, 2012 at 7:15 am

AMEN…latest xample is combined effort for F35 program.

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TMB January 20, 2012 at 2:26 pm

There's only so much you can do with "components." In the end, you still need separate airframes for cargo haulers, scouts, and gunships. The AH-1 is skinny and the CH-47 is big for very good reasons.

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HiPowerGuy December 5, 2012 at 7:14 am

AND…..in less maintenance costs and replacement parts. IF…and that is a big IF they design and build it correctly.

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jamesb January 20, 2012 at 11:46 am

The Regular Army Old timers must NOT be happy….

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

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tiger January 20, 2012 at 4:20 pm

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

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Dan Gao January 20, 2012 at 5:32 pm

If the way Kiowas are used today are any precedent, I'd guess that the new "scout" would act more like a light gunship.

Anyways, I wish the Army best of luck in this program. There's a lot at stake because helicopter R&D has been severely neglected since the cancellation of the Comanche (RIP). There's a lot of potential to screw this up, but if they play things right, we could have the next generation of advanced rotorcraft in our hands. Don't screw this up!

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Dan Gao January 20, 2012 at 5:34 pm

PS: Sorry, didn't mean to give you a thumbs down.

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blight January 20, 2012 at 6:00 pm

Meaning the pilot or the copilot/gunner has to monitor a UAV screen?

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TMB January 20, 2012 at 11:05 pm
HiPowerGuy December 5, 2012 at 7:20 am

I don't know if you watch it, but on cable, the Military Channel had an episode just on that. An MH-6 ( little bird if that is the correct designation ) being remotely controlled by an Apache Gunship. BOth had missiles on them. And its video feed can be viewed bymultiple gunships, so in case one runs out of ammo, another can pick up and shoot right away.

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blight January 20, 2012 at 6:02 pm

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?

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Oudin January 21, 2012 at 6:11 am

I think Coaxial rotorcraft with duct fan is good.

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trinulationtime January 22, 2012 at 1:39 pm

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.

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Kim Wolfersperger January 24, 2012 at 3:50 am

Osprey?
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..

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ospreydriver January 26, 2012 at 1:40 am

What operational problems are you speaking of, perchance? All the haters can ever come up with are ancient examples from testing.

"Select few" see "real life?" You mean like EVERY Osprey in 2D MAW and EVERY Osprey in the 8th SOS?

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HiPowerGuy December 5, 2012 at 7:22 am

Out of curiosity, where did you get the info for thst statement?

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blight January 24, 2012 at 7:48 am

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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WarPony January 20, 2012 at 9:09 am

some were flying for natsec in mid '96, and who knows where all the money went? the stealthy vertical lift uav that went down in the "Osama" raid wasn't produced out of any "advertised" budget, was it?

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blight January 20, 2012 at 9:19 am

Thought Comanche money was freed up to fund Iraq, and eventually went into the canned ARH-70 program.

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WarPony January 20, 2012 at 9:24 am

in other words, the bird they've BEEN flying for a while is now receiving it's "here's-our-plan" commercial – and, it doesn't look like those silly pics above. i have to admit, seeing the ~osprey pic makes me laugh, but not in a too funny way.

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WarPony January 20, 2012 at 11:16 am

stealthy little critter it is too – see at ttp://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2011/05/06/earlyshow/main20060391.shtml

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HiPowerGuy December 5, 2012 at 7:07 am

And it sure did look like it shared the basic shape of a Comanche.

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