Home » Ground » Army Details Next-Gen Helicopter Timeline

Army Details Next-Gen Helicopter Timeline

by Kris Osborn on April 25, 2013

U.S. Army — Graphic Illustration of potential JMR configuration

U.S. Army officials plan to award up to four design contracts by the end of fiscal year 2013 for vendors to build the Joint Multi-Role (JMR) demonstrator aircraft, a next generation helicopter fleet, Army leaders said Thursday.

Current plans call for two JMR technology demonstrator aircraft to be designed and built for a first flight by sometime in 2017, said Todd Turner, director for the Army’s Research and Technology Air Portfolio.

“This is an S&T [Science and Technology] effort for the development of a new, medium-class platform. The goals are to design, fabricate and demonstrate an advanced vertical lift vehicle with a combat radius of 424 kilometers, that’s an 848 kilometer range, un-refueled, at speeds of up to 230 knots,” Turner said at the National Defense Industrial Association’s 14th Annual Science & Engineering Technology Conference/Defense Tech Exposition, National Harbor, Md.

A key goal for the program is to be affordable, and develop an aircraft that can reach much greater speeds and extend mission possibilities without compromising an ability to hover, Turner said.

Army officials said the S&T effort is designed to lower risk, reduce costs and inform requirements for what will be a Future Vertical Lift formal program of record designed to deliver new aircraft by 2030.

“We’re currently completing what we call configuration trades and analysis portions of this effort which will finish this year. The trades we considered were cost, weight and power requirements, mission equipment packages and life-cycle costs.  All configurations were considered,” Turner said.

The configurations currently being examined include a tilt-rotor possibility, like today’s Marine Corps and Air Force V-22 Osprey as well as various compound configurations such as air vehicles with a rear-thrusting mechanism and co-axial rotorblades, Army officials explained.

The service is evaluating responses to an Army solicitation to industry to build designs. Service officials plan to down select to two design teams by the fourth quarter of fiscal year ’14, Turner said.

The JMR effort also plans to include next-generation mission equipment and avionics along with integrated sensors and weapons systems.

Turner said Army S&T is working on advanced rotor designs, autonomy algorithms and concept analyses wherein they assess air-vehicle design methods.

“We currently have a good handle on how to build systems when we have a database. What we are trying to do is move towards where we can design new systems at a more rapid pace. Get that design closer to what the air vehicle will look like, he said.

The FVL aircraft is slated to be powered by an Improved Turbine Engine Program (ITEP), a more powerful, 3,000-horsepower, more fuel-efficient engine also being informed by an ongoing S&T Program, Advanced Affordable Turbine Engine effort.

“It’s transitioning out of S&T this year to the ITEP program. It’s showing benefits of 25-percent reduced burn rate and a 35-percent reduction in production and maintenance costs,” Turner said.

Army S&T is also in the early phases of developing the Future Affordable Turbine Engine, a 7,000-horsepower heavy class engine for larger rotary platforms such as the CH-47 Chinook.

“We’re developing material and component technologies for the compressor and turbine sub-systems,” he added.

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{ 102 comments… read them below or add one }

USS ENTERPRISE April 25, 2013 at 5:53 pm

Hmm. Well. Yet another "Next Generation" project. Would love to see another tilt-rotor like the Osprey. This picture, though, already makes me doubt the project. Tiny body, pusher props, an oversized main rotor, and wings aren't filling me with confidence.

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Commando Cody April 25, 2013 at 10:19 pm

Enterprise:

You might get your wish:
http://www.aero-news.net/index.cfm?do=main.textpo

Note that Bell is proposing both an attack and transport version.

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Ben April 25, 2013 at 10:57 pm

That doesn't look half bad.

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BishopOne April 26, 2013 at 9:14 am

Basically looks like a blackhawk with tilt-rotor. Yes? No?

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USS ENTERPRISE April 26, 2013 at 9:11 pm

Looks brilliant. It looks like the second image is a photoshopped Blackhawk.

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Holt Busbee May 2, 2013 at 9:17 am

Don't forget the X-2 technology of Sikorsky. They have teamed with Boeing and may have the inside track if they can beat the costs of Bell's V-22 on sterioids design.

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dubweiser101 April 25, 2013 at 6:13 pm

If the F-35 project is any indication of how the modern US defense industry works then we can expect this bird at about 300% over budget, and sometime in 2040 as opposed to 2030 and on budget.

If I'm wrong, I will eat my left testicle raw.

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USS ENTERPRISE April 25, 2013 at 6:24 pm

Hm. Wouldn't recommend that. Also, there is a fine line between the heli and the fighter. So really, this could go either way.

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Musson April 26, 2013 at 11:16 am

They just announced the project and already it has been allocated $3.2 billion in unanticipated overhead.

/s

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Dfens April 28, 2013 at 8:30 am

But the program has "stabilized".

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Holt Busbee May 2, 2013 at 9:14 am

BS! Name your source for that garbage!

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Belesari April 25, 2013 at 6:20 pm

Oh looks like a real low maintenance bird with those 4 props…..

How do we make this more awesome…..

Put more blades on it.

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USS ENTERPRISE April 25, 2013 at 6:49 pm

Hmm. I don't know about low costs to maintain. At least, not with your PROPosed more blades idea.

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Belesari April 25, 2013 at 7:42 pm

LOL was a joke /sarcasm.

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USS ENTERPRISE April 25, 2013 at 10:35 pm

Sadly, about 4 people didn't see that.

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Belesari April 25, 2013 at 11:15 pm

Ha ha. I'm used to it.

d. kellogg April 26, 2013 at 12:32 pm

I think whoever came up with this monstrosity is the real joke.
I used to draw helicopters looking like that when I was in like 5th grade.
Seriously, how overly complex did this committee really think they had to make this rotorcraft?

My guess is, make it complex enough to keep a lot of brass employed in the Army's high chains.

It has been proven time and again that a pusher prop configured rotorcraft does not need an anti-torque tail rotor. Piasecki among others has demonstrated it time and again with compound designs.
http://www.piasecki.com/x49a.php

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Gunslinger6 April 25, 2013 at 10:39 pm
Musson April 26, 2013 at 11:17 am

If they add anymore blades they will have to subcontract it out to Kitchmaid.

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gunslinger6 April 26, 2013 at 11:33 am

It needs more cow bell!

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STemplar April 25, 2013 at 8:03 pm

This basically matches all the prototypes and models out there. So falls to the company that provides the best value l would think.

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mzungu April 25, 2013 at 8:31 pm

Those terrorist must be running pretty fast on their feet in those mountains to warrant a fast heli, but hey, sign me up. I will just have to work harder, so Uncle Sam can put more of my tax dollar to work. Sam, you can sign my name on those government bonds as often as they like.

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Ben April 25, 2013 at 9:38 pm

I'm cautiously optimistic.

I'd like to see that proposed larger, quad-rotor version of the Osprey. Same hauling capacity as a C-130 but with VTOL capability :)

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Commando Cody April 25, 2013 at 10:20 pm

That was proposed for the JHL program, which got cut.

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Ben April 25, 2013 at 10:42 pm

Bummer.

I still think it was a great idea.

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USS ENTERPRISE April 25, 2013 at 11:15 pm

Agreed. Though the hate mail the US would get for that would be, ridiculous. Great idea squashed, I am afraid.

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blight_ April 26, 2013 at 8:34 am

The tiltrotor kinks have been mostly worked out by Osprey, so we might as well double up on our tiltrotor investment.

A quad-lifter in the C-130's range of 20 tons may be ambitious, but if you can replace a CH-53/CH-47 with some a tilt-rotor heavy lifter…

apachedave April 26, 2013 at 12:37 pm

A quad rotor was what we Eric Shinseki was discussing ten years ago, and good reason why the Army never got into the V-22. It just could not lift enough to replace the CH-47, let alone have capacity like that of a C-130. But just like the C-27 Spartan, it will get claimed by the USAF to be summarily cancelled.

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majr0d April 26, 2013 at 4:30 pm

Apache – Much truth there

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Kota Bear August 14, 2013 at 4:39 am

the problem with the the VTOL capability is that it is not designed for large payloads. the amount of torque required to lift something the size of a C-130 would rip apart the wings if you even managed to find a prop design that would meet those requirements

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Taylor April 25, 2013 at 11:01 pm

I think Sikorsky recently came up with the pusher prop helicopter idea. It looks like a food processor with all the blades.

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USS ENTERPRISE April 25, 2013 at 11:14 pm

Yeah. It looks like, from the picture, the tail rotor and the pusher prop intersect. Is it just me?

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blight_ April 26, 2013 at 8:37 am

It's the AH-56 all over again.

Though you should be able to counter-act rotation of the main rotors with just a pusher or NOTAR. I'm guessing the pusher is for forward speed.

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XYZ April 26, 2013 at 1:16 am

Let's put ALL OF THE rotors on it!

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Brandon April 26, 2013 at 12:14 pm

Some poor guy was left standing in the hangar with a rotor he thought was going to be on the front of the bird. Someone didn't tell him there was a limit of 3. haha

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Cthel April 26, 2013 at 3:37 am

The AH-56 Lives!

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joe April 26, 2013 at 8:34 am

They ought to just dust off the old X-18 Tiltrotor out of monthballs, Redesign it using new lighter matterials, computer controlled wing tilting technology borrowing from V-22. Enlarge the body to carry 35 troops or a cargo lift greater than what the CH-47 or 53E are currently doing, but keep the footprint small enough to still be able to work off of Ships and small platforms.

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blight_ April 26, 2013 at 11:20 am
Dfens April 26, 2013 at 9:49 am

This is what we need, another "joint" program that has lots of political clout. No doubt it will feature all new everything from the rotor to the landing gear that way they can provide a dose of money to as many federal congressional districts as possible. As usual, they will pay the defense contractors involved $1.10 for every dollar they spend on development, and then won't be able to figure out why the program drags on for so long and why the costs go through the roof, as if there were some mystery to it.

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guest April 26, 2013 at 10:13 am

Would it REALLY have an exposed tail rotor for Blackhawk Down type of weakness?

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blight_ April 26, 2013 at 11:15 am

That pretty much limits you to one main rotor with intermeshing blades (see K-MAX), or a paired coaxial contra-rotating setup (many Kamov helicopters), or a tandem contra-rotating rotor setup (Chinook, Sea Knight). MD's NOTAR still has vents in the tail, and those could be compromised as well. Even pusher designs would be vulnerable. A Fenestron (rotor-in-tail, see HH-65 Dolphin) is vulnerable for the same reasons as a normal tail rotor. Tipjet hasn't been tried for a while.

If you wanted to be exceedingly paranoid, an Osprey would probably be vulnerable to losing either engine to an RPG, as would a Chinook, and a coaxial contrarotating setup is one point of failure from dropping like a rock without even a main rotor, though theoretically harder to hit.

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USS ENTERPRISE April 26, 2013 at 3:03 pm

Any helicopter, tandem rotor or not, is vulnerable to RPG attack. I say just come up with a way to avoid the attacks in the first place.

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blight_ April 26, 2013 at 3:44 pm

Shh, let's be shortsighted and focus on band-aids (such as eliminating exposed tail rotors)!

We can sell the military on RPG-On-Tail-Resistant-Helicopters! Marketing needs a better acronym.

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USS ENTERPRISE April 26, 2013 at 4:14 pm

How about R-E-L-I-A-B-L-E?

Dfens April 26, 2013 at 11:32 am

The short answer is "no". They can duct the rotor and swivel it so they don't have one rotor pointing aft and another countering rotor forces. The F-35 swivels it's hot engine exhaust for attitude control. It's a lot easier to swivel cold air with a similar duct. That crappy graphic they included with this story doesn't give anyone a warm fuzzy feeling about this program. They should have used an odd number of blades to counter the noise problems the main rotor is going to have when it interacts with that wing. The wing looks way too close to the rotor anyway. And could that tail boom be a little longer?

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blight_ April 26, 2013 at 11:41 am

I think Guest is fixated on tail rotors, when the real vulnerability is putting a rocket into the tail boom. Ducted rotors on the rear boom would still have gone down to RPG fire in '93. It's a limitation of using rotors to stay afloat. Lose the ability to counter rotation of the main rotor and you lose control of the aircraft.

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USS ENTERPRISE April 26, 2013 at 3:05 pm

Pretty much yes. But how is a ducted tail rotor any worse than on open one in an RPG attack?

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blight_ April 26, 2013 at 3:46 pm

Because you can kill the counter-torque ability of a helicopter by damage to the driveshaft, and not just damaging the rotor blades or the rotor assembly.

Brandon April 26, 2013 at 12:16 pm

I am surprised the military hasn't experimented with NOTAR concepts more. I am sure one could be designed with a pusher function.

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DukeFlyer April 26, 2013 at 1:47 pm
Starship Trooper April 26, 2013 at 10:15 am

With lessons learned from the V-22 and the F-35B can we please go back to the Tiltjet design?

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USS ENTERPRISE April 26, 2013 at 3:06 pm

That is what I am talking about. But the trouble we went through to get our tilt-rotor to work. How hard will a tilt jet be?

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Marine April 26, 2013 at 10:40 am

Why don't they just buy the V-22? it exists and it works for the most part. If its not up to the job, modify it. Has to be cheaper than designing a whole new bird.

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blight_ April 26, 2013 at 11:10 am

I'm sure Bell will submit some kind of upgraded Osprey. For what its worth, Army was in the V-22 program before making an exit. If they had stayed, Osprey would have been an all-service aircraft.

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USS ENTERPRISE April 26, 2013 at 5:55 pm

I think that the V-22 would have been a good choice to replace some of the older Chinooks in the Army. Though if there is a competition for a next-gen helicopter (which is pretty likely) I think we will see the V-22 not only show up, but make it to the finals. Personally, though, I would imagine it would be WAY cheaper to see the V-22 selected.

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John April 28, 2013 at 8:55 pm

Cheaper? You're missing the point. The point is to spend money. Lots and lots and lots of money. And that about it.

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Mikey April 26, 2013 at 12:36 pm

Looks like it needs a few more rotors, 3 or 4 at least. You can bet that we will not see this one ever get past the "Lots of Money" think stage.
They say there is only so many ways to make a door knob, this door knob will never open the door. Can we just stop now and start over.
Cheers

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apachedave April 26, 2013 at 12:39 pm

A quad rotor was what we Eric Shinseki was discussing ten years ago, and good reason why the Army never got into the V-22. It just could not lift enough to replace the CH-47, let alone have capacity like that of a C-130. But just like the C-27 Spartan, it will get claimed by the USAF to be summarily cancelled.

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Lance April 26, 2013 at 12:58 pm

I agree this may be a pipe dream for now. Be easier to buy V-22s to the Army than this. Overall the Army bloated budget on failed systems like GCV may kill or really delay this project to begin with.

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Mystick April 26, 2013 at 1:07 pm

They forgot the prop on the nose and the ducted fan in the middle that provides the plenum with air so it can be a hovercraft, too.

Here's one thing about helicopters… they are abnormally loud because of the interference pattern created by the shock waves coming off the two rotors(lift and yaw). They interfere with other at 90 degrees and create a third frequency shockwave(similar to heterodyning)… add another rotor on yet another axis(90 degrees to either of the existing) and you'll have yet another heterodyned shockwave created.

This vehicle, as envisioned, would be incredibly loud.

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Guest April 26, 2013 at 3:20 pm

Thank you…that was quite informative, and provided me with an insight that I have not previoously had

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Dfens April 27, 2013 at 6:15 pm

Funny thing is, you won't even notice the extra noise because of the pusher prop, due to all the noise the interaction between that wing and the rotor will have. It's a a hell of a lot closer to the rotor than anything on the tail boom.

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USS ENTERPRISE April 28, 2013 at 11:34 am

Yeah, well either way it will be one loud Heli. How is this supposed to be stealthy again?

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Tribulationtime April 26, 2013 at 1:50 pm

So Is V-22 a faliure? My Monster: Tilt engines. 1 grid-type propeler in front of nacelle for hover, and another conventional after for hover and level fly. A complex arangement of flaps in the horizontal wing to Coanda efect sustentation. And 2 APU kind turbines one for hover manouvers and other for help blowing over flaps, helping grid-propeler. Sorry no autorotation. And Yes if it crash crew would die.

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@TerrantheEmpire April 26, 2013 at 4:40 pm

The Battles in The Hindu Kush have shown the weakness of the Conventional Chopper in the Hot and High. Every design in Use dates To at least the early 80's If not older Sure the avionics and Power Plants have gotten newer but the limits are the same. It's time It's overdue. Faster Higher better is the Way Fighters and military aviation has always aimed and yet Rotary wing seems stuck on more of the same.FVL is targeted by the Army who has the largest Rotary wing fleet to clean slate update and Faster higher better the Fleet.
Five teams have offered projections so far for their entry. Only Three I consider Serious. The Two toss away are Penski whose Bird looks like the Graphic save it uses only a Ducted pusher and AVX who offers a box like hull with twin ducted fans and a kamov style coax ( it looks like a Updated Kamov Helix)
The Three Real options
Bell V280
Sikorsky Boeing with a Raider Based Coaxial and pusher ( no wings)
And last EADS eurocopter X3

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USS ENTERPRISE April 26, 2013 at 5:57 pm

Whats wrong with the V-22, Chinook, and Blackhawk again?

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blight_ April 27, 2013 at 9:42 pm

There's nothing wrong with the Chinook, asides from the armoring scheme. It was never meant to shrug off bullets like nobody's business. Blackhawk suffers at high altitude, but what aircraft doesn't?

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USS ENTERPRISE April 27, 2013 at 10:33 pm

Well, that leaves the V-22. Also, what about simple, improvised armor for the Chinook? Say, corrugated steel plates on the inside?

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blight_ April 28, 2013 at 11:38 am

You're assuming the V-22 is somehow more durable, but it may not necessarily be so.

Only one way to find out, and it would be destructive testing. Teleoperate a Chinook, shoot it full of bullets and watch it crash and burn. Teleoperate an Osprey, shoot it full of bullets, throw in some RPGs and missiles and watch it burn.

@TerrantheEmpire April 26, 2013 at 7:35 pm
@Terrantheempire April 26, 2013 at 8:09 pm
Jason April 26, 2013 at 8:55 pm

I wouldn't put too much stock in that "rendering." It looks looks like a first year industrial design school project.

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USS ENTERPRISE April 26, 2013 at 9:27 pm

I personally hope so. It looks like something out of Avatar. And we all know how well that went (stupid Cameron!)

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citanon April 27, 2013 at 3:26 am

Well, the concept artist at least has a sense of humor…

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William_C1 April 27, 2013 at 5:15 am

If your looking for concepts, Sikorsky has a few good ones in their "X2" configuration, including one that has a slight resemblance to the RAH-66.

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John April 28, 2013 at 8:50 pm

Oh goody. Now the military can spend 15 years and a hundred billion dollars designing an aircraft that comes in at 300% of the "estimated" cost and then cancel the project, ensuring that the defense contractors made the maximum amount of money while delivering absolutely nothing to the US taxpayer.

Exactly as planned.

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Old Army Helo driver April 29, 2013 at 2:47 pm

When looking at the drawing can anyone say "AH-56 Cheyenne" . "Old is new and new is old". Our past history of compressability of the leading edge will be a major obstacle at top speeds, but the V-22 is not an answer. It is very difficult to land a bus during many of the tactical missions this platform will be used for.

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ketchupaholic April 30, 2013 at 5:22 pm

This concept would never fly. Must have been an April Fools joke. If that rotar tilts, bye.. bye…. wings. And all the torque on the frame from the rotors on the tail. HOGWASH!

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Kota Bear August 14, 2013 at 4:50 am

I would like to see a VTOL design that replaced rotors with jet engines and changed it from a troop carrier to a full-fledged gunship. This would provide the best close air support for it deploys fast and is agile while having enough payload capacity to mount more then enough weapon systems to finish any job. Then integrate it with similar stealth capabilities found on the F-22 raptor or F-35 Lightning II. With this mixture of technology it would make that aircraft one of the most advanced and effective weapon platforms that exists today.

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USS ENTERPRISE April 26, 2013 at 4:14 pm

But the helicopter is trashed either way.

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USS ENTERPRISE April 26, 2013 at 5:50 pm

Agreed. We have ironed out the V-22, which proves that idea of a tilt-rotor works. Though, just wondering, why not add rotors that are incorporated into the wings, and then just have them rotate inside the wings?

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Dfens April 27, 2013 at 6:11 pm

The duct protects the rotor blades from small arms fire or shrapnel. It can also keep radar waves from being reflected by the tail rotor. Plus it acts as something of a size multiplier. You get the same side thrust from a smaller rotor. It won't make the helicopter invulnerable, but less vulnerable.

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blight_ April 27, 2013 at 9:38 pm

Shh, you can get the DoD to pay for to make their helicopters "Blackhawk Down"-proof. It worked for mines and IEDs…

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Dfens April 28, 2013 at 8:33 am

Obviously I never learned how to play this game the right way.

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blight_ April 28, 2013 at 11:35 am

I think they'll let the other services play R&D crash and burn first.

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blight_ April 28, 2013 at 11:36 am

Engineers do engineering. Marketers play marketing.

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USS ENTERPRISE April 28, 2013 at 6:38 pm

Is that what they did back in WWII with Shermans and their improvised armor? Also, you are assuming that the helis will be in a firefight. Yes, they will take hits, but will they be hit with twenty million bullets? I am sure they have taken fire in Iraq, but how bad is it?

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USS ENTERPRISE April 28, 2013 at 6:39 pm

And soldiers do the fighting.

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blight_ April 28, 2013 at 8:37 pm

The improvised armor probably didn't do a whole lot for Shermans. It's like the "hillbilly armor" that was used in 2003-2004: soft metal won't do much, you need hardened steel.

The sandbags and the like were probably meant to increase shaped charge standoff.

But anyways, your helicopters will always get shot at. If you start dropping your troops off far enough away from the fight, then the enemy has denied the airspace properly. Too close, and you run the risk of losing helicopters. Look at the helicopter numbers from VN: lots of Hueys and Chinooks got roasted. You can say that helicopters aren't meant to get shot at: but even a cursory examination of Ia Drang or Roberts Ridge suggest that sites assumed to be safe often aren't.

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USS ENTERPRISE April 28, 2013 at 10:39 pm

Firstly, in the Sherman reference, I was talking about logs strapped up to the sides. Now. Firstly, while Hueys and Chinooks were hit and destroyed in 'Nam, how many made it through? Also, its important to note that the helis back then weren't nearly as advanced as the "main stays" of the USAF and US Army, the Blackhawk, V-22, and the uprated Chinooks. Also, while, say, a V-22 can take a hit, it can fire back, and that, I think, is a big thing to remember. Modern fifty cals and miniguns are improvements over the ones duct (or is duck?) taped to the sides of the Hueys. Finally, if you wanted hardened armor, can we not just put something a bit like reactive tiles?

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Ziv April 29, 2013 at 11:20 am

That video is the best job of "photoshopping" I can remember in a long time!

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USS ENTERPRISE April 29, 2013 at 5:18 pm

Better than Iran or North Korea!

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blight_ April 29, 2013 at 11:56 am

http://www.vhpa.org/heliloss.pdf

7,013 UH-1 of all types deployed to RVN. 3,305 destroyed. ~16k total manufactured.

The UH-1 didn't have miniguns. Door gunners had M-60's. Early gunships had forward rocket pods. And in the early years, they fought without Cobra gunships (these were derived from UH-1 parts).

The AH-64 was born because of the failure of the AH-56 (closely related to the image in the article) cost too much and failed to meet specs. At least the Army knew that the AH-56 was meant to leapfrog, and simultaneously pursued the Cobra; such that when the Cheyenne flopped it still had a helicopter to send to Vietnam.

The early Hueys did not use duct-taped M-60's…even Marine CH-34's and other early Marine helicopters (which all predated the UH-1) had proper M-60 mounts.

The Chinook served back in RVN and today. It was meant as a heavy lifter, <800 deployed, <300 lost. Generally not used to drop people close to a fight, more for moving artillery batteries.

The more you armor a helicopter, the less performance you can get. And that really sucks in places like Afghanistan, less so at sea level. Soviet Hinds probably suffered in Afghanistan (probably why they flew with minimum of passengers).

Same arguments that come with armoring Humvees. Off-road performance suffers. Frame suffers. More maintenance, less cargo. Where do you trade without compromising performance?

And re reactive armor, the options are something like Trophy ADS for RPG's. But against heavy machineguns, kevlar linings to protect against spall and small arms and judicious use of ceramic to protect essentials are an option, but heat buildup from extra material and weight are caveats.

Tidbit: The ACH-47 was a prototype armored/armed version of the Chinook with limited service in RVN. But an armored version of a helicopter is inevitably slower than the lighter transports (which is why the improv gunships got superseded by the Cobras).

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USS ENTERPRISE April 29, 2013 at 5:17 pm

Okay, I see your point. Just one note though. I wasn't saying that mini guns were on the hueys (might have sounded that way, though). I was referring to the armament on the V-22. Honestly, though, after all this armor talk, I don't see how this "Next Gen" helicopter is supposed to help. If they are looking for speed, well, Chinook or V-22. They want firepower, Apache or Super Cobra. They want a little bit of everything, then just outfit a Blackhawk. Though armor, as you have pointed out, is tricky. hmm.

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blight_ April 29, 2013 at 5:25 pm

Pretty much.

The Block III apache (as I've brought up in the Apache thread) promises to make up some lost ground in performance due to weight bloat. The new transmission that promises to deliver on that promised (coupled to a new T700-D engine) is also a production bottleneck; though the crowds that rally behind Boeing's right to play sleight of hand is a little disturbing.

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USS ENTERPRISE April 29, 2013 at 5:30 pm

Okay, yeah, sure. Personally, I live buy the "If its not Boeing, I am not going. Its Airbus, I will make a fuss" saying, so I am kinda biased. But in all fairness, who would you trust to make helicopters? Lockheed? Northrop Grumman? Exactly. No one out there.

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blight_ April 30, 2013 at 5:42 pm

Bell and Sikorsky.

Apache /was/ an Hughes product, along with what became the MD 500. The latter isn't intrinsically /bad/.

I'm just surprised they didn't save the RDS-21 for an upgrade package to the fleet's Apaches, instead of trying to put it into the Block III to get it into the fleet right away. Theoretically the entire Block III production line is sitting in a Boeing plant waiting for transmission production to catch up.

I suppose if the RDS-21 was the game-changer that it is, that the Air Force will be asked to transport a bunch of RDS-21 transmissions to Bagram and do the transmission swap in theater. But we won't know until the Block III's that did make it off the line with a transmission fly in Afghanistan.

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Dfens May 1, 2013 at 3:27 pm

The soldiers are the one's I feel we are failing the most. The US taxpayer puts their dollars on the line, but the soldiers put their lives on the line. To see these defense companies playing games, to see the company I work for playing games instead of serving their interests is supremely galling to me.

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