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Army Seeks Designs for Next-Gen Helicopters

by Richard Sisk on July 8, 2013

sikorsky_demonstrator

The U.S. Army has produced a video to attract bidders and urge them to push the technology envelope in developing next-generation helicopter and tilt-rotor fleets for all the services under the Defense Department’s long-term Future Vertical Lift plan.

“I need aviation visionaries,” Bill Lewis, director of the Army’s Aviation Development Directorate, said in his commentary for the 7-minute video, produced by graphic designers at the Redstone Arsenal in Alabama. “The only limiting factor is your imagination.”

In response to the video, Hurst, Texas-based Bell Helicopter, part of Providence, R.I.-based Textron Inc., has come up with its own video featuring jut-jawed actors who quickly kick doors and “take care of business” with the help of the V-280 Valor, Bells’ tilt-rotor design for a joint, multi-role aircraft.

The Bell production promoting the Valor begins with two kids ditching their schoolbags to watch the video. “Sweet. Future Vertical Lift,” one kid says. “I can’t wait to fly that bad boy.”

In both the Army video and the Bell production, the theme appeared to be the transformative power of technology to shape future wars into mouse-click games in which the good guys never die, much less bleed.

Bell Helicopter, AVX Aircraft Co. and a joint venture of Boeing Co. and Sikorsky Aircraft Corp. have submitted designs to the Army for what is being called the Joint Multi-Role Technology Demonstrator for an attack and utility aerial platform that was expected to be the forerunner for a wide range of future rotorcraft.

The Army plans to make initial decisions on the demonstrator in September, with a flying prototype to be ready in 2017.

Sikorsky, a subsidiary of United Technologies Corp., has teamed with Boeing to develop a concept aircraft that would have counter-rotating main rotors and a pusher propeller to give it a cruise speed of more than 260 miles per hour.

“By leveraging our proven design, we can offer the Army reduced risk, a 100-knot (116mph) improvement in speed, a 60 percent improvement in combat radius, and 50 percent better high-hot hover performance,” than other medium-lift helicopters, Samir Mehta, president of Sikorsky Military Systems, said in a statement.

Sikorsky, maker of the Black Hawk utility helicopter, and Boeing, which builds Apache attack choppers, last partnered to build the RAH-66 Commanche light attack helicopter, which was cancelled by the Army in 2004.

Founded in 2005, AVX Aircraft, based in Benbrook, Texas, bills itself as a “rapidly growing aerospace company” that has come up with a radical design featuring coaxial rotors and dual-ducted fans mounted on the sides. AVX claims that the design will give the aircraft greater aerodynamic efficiency and better speed, range and fuel economy than conventional helicopters.

The Bell V-280 Valor “will provide the Army’s most sought-after capability with a cruise speed of 280 knots (322mph),” Keith Flail, director of Bell Helicopter’s Future Vertical Lift program, said in a company press release.

The V-280 Valor builds upon Bell’s long experience with the MV-22 Osprey tilt-rotor aircraft for the Marines, which overcame a rash of development accidents and political opposition to perform ably in Iraq and Afghanistan.

One of the main differences between the Osprey and the Valor design is in the operation of the tilt rotors. In the Osprey, the engines and the rotors tilt, but in the Valor the engines are stationary.

The proposals from Bell, AVX and Boeing-Sikorsky for the Joint Multi-Role Technology Demostrator were the first major steps in the Pentagon’s overall plan announced in 2011 to have the Army take the lead in coming up with prototypes to replace the more than 4,000 aging helicopters in all the services.

In laying out the road map for the House Armed Services Committee, Maj. Gen. William Crosby, the Army’s program executive officer for aviation, last year acknowledged the budget constraints well before Congress imposed additional cost-cutting under the process called sequester.

“The next-generation aircraft will have to be a whole lot less expensive to operate than the current fleet,” Crosby testified, and be ready to come onto line in the 2020s.

However, “even with all of the great work we are doing upgrading and supporting the current fleet, now is the time to invest in the S&T (science and technology) required to develop the future fleet,” Crosby said.

“We are still flying third-generation vertical lift platforms designed during the Vietnam War-era, nearly 50 years ago,” he said. “Our current fleet will not last forever and there are bounds to our ability to upgrade current designs to meet future needs.”

The Army said that automatic budget cuts should not be a factor in the initial agreements with the manufacturers for design proposals.

“Budget constraints and turmoil continue to be a challenge but are not currently projected to alter the agreement awards,” Mervin Brokke, a civilian spokesman for the Army’s Aviation and Missile Research, Development and Engineering Center, said in an e-mailed statement.

Brokke would not comment on how much Bell, Boeing-Sikorsky and AVX were getting up front for their work on the demonstrator, although AVX has stated on its website that it received $4 million.

“Upon successful completion of negotiations and making of appropriate notifications, the Army will publicly announce the recipients selected for funding,” Brokke said.

Military analysts noted that the Army has dropped its long-time resistance to tilt-rotor technology in pushing the Future Vertical Lift program.

“The Army backed out of the Osprey program very early in its history,” said Loren Thompson, chief operating officer of the Lexington Institute and a Pentagon consultant. In the 1980s, “the Army figured that the Osprey was not quite wide enough for a Humvee. They decided to stick with conventional rotorcraft,” he said, “and that’s proven to be a big mistake.”

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{ 144 comments… read them below or add one }

Lance July 8, 2013 at 1:30 pm

Not really BIG this is not a RFP just a design study.

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hibeam July 8, 2013 at 3:42 pm

How about a drone that makes a whup whup whup sound like a helicopter? Affordable and ten times more affective.

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Ben July 8, 2013 at 1:31 pm

I really wish they would have put just a little more money into those CGI effects. It felt like I was back in 2000 for a few minutes.

That aside, this is exciting stuff. Can't wait to see what materializes from all of it.

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@HarryInventor July 11, 2013 at 1:57 pm

A helicopter with an extra rotor that costs $460m each, is no f* use and is built across 14 states that need the jobs?

I expect the bill that authorizes it passes thru congress and includes something about seal meat consumption being outlawed in Idaho…

Meanwhile, over where the usa's Chinese owners live, the last of the "string of pearls" satellites nears completion, the final tranche of the constellation capable of detonating a modest nuclear weapon over any part of the conus, producing a significant gamma ray backscatter capable of putting the usa back where it belongs… the stone age!
"Guess who they'll buy their new electrical grid and generating capacity from", smiles the PLA general.

"Anyone seen my husband?", asks the president of the usa, briefly glancing away from his FB page!

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SJE July 8, 2013 at 1:58 pm

I support this, but also hope that they are modernizing and replacing the current fleet. Too many of them are in rough shape after a decade in the desert.

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blight_ July 8, 2013 at 2:10 pm

Could be worse. It could be

"We intend to leapfrog the SLEP paradigm with DISRUPTIVE VTOL platforms"

Like chum in shark-infested waters…

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Jayson July 8, 2013 at 2:15 pm

Maybe extend and expand the existing osprey since it has all the rest of the capabilities the Army is looking for.

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d. kellogg July 8, 2013 at 3:38 pm

Well, that DID work when developing the AH-1 from the UH-1 under Project Venom.

More than likely though, an Osprey gunship derivative (as was in multiple forms suggested back in the late 1980s) would more than likely follow the UH-60/AH-64 path: not being an outright descendant of, but rather sharing a multitude of powertrain and airframe components.

Depending where Bell/Boeing's Valor tiltrotor progresses, or even an adaptation from the commercial 609 tiltrotor, could give us a preliminary tiltrotor gunship with which to further refine the capabilities, and even moreso, develop new tactics that the platform would bring beyond today's attack helicopters.
Problem with tiltrotor gunship is it can't deploy underwing rockets or missiles while the rotors are forward.

Nearer-term, renewed interest in the Piasecki Vectored Thrust Ducted Propellors would give extra performance to current helicopters.

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blight_ July 8, 2013 at 4:24 pm

Are gun pods and sychronizers too high-risk for the Osprey?

Not sure I would risk firing a missile through prop-blades, but I suppose any Osprey gunship could not mount anything in the wings. Alternatively, it would only be able to fight with rotors in the vertical mode, which may suit the threat environment.

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d. kellogg July 9, 2013 at 9:44 am

Wouldn't be much call for wing guns in a tiltrotor gunship when it could just as readily adopt a chin turret (like AH-1 Cobras) or belly turret (like Apache) for a traversable gun.
Or even a larger caliber fixed fuselage gun like some Hinds have (twin barrel 30mm).

Current MV22s DO have a gun option:
http://www.airforcetimes.com/article/20090104/NEW

One of the 1980s/1990s Osprey gunship artists' concepts featured a chin gun like the Cobra's 3-barrel 20mm,…but the harder hitting 30mm M230 of Apache would be more ideal.
http://sobchak.files.wordpress.com/2013/04/bellba

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blight_ July 9, 2013 at 12:31 pm

Guns are fun, but you will probably need more than that. Gunpods on sychronizers are moot if you use a chin turret, but 70mm rockets or Hellfires could only be used with rotors in the vertical…but if you're hovering to support a landing, that's where they will be. And if you expect to fire on targets with rotors forward, I wonder if wingtip pylons are an option, or undercarriage weapons, or something internally carried (Viper Strike? Griffin?)

hibeam July 8, 2013 at 3:40 pm

Can it fire on an enemy hidding amongst civilians without even a remote possibility of civilian casualties? No? Thought not. We can't use it. Next idea.

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brandy July 8, 2013 at 7:13 pm

we don't care about killing civilians. in fact we love killing civilians in other countries.

we've killed hundreds of thousands in Iraq & Afghanistan. and that's just the past 10 years.

haven't you been paying attention?

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JoeSovereign July 9, 2013 at 11:42 am

Don't you know we have redefined civilians. According to the US Government.

If you are a have a weapon (or something that looks like a weapon) you are a combatant, even in your own backyard, with no combat occurring and you have no idea you are being observed.
If you are a male 14 to 80 and near a combatant or suspected enemy solider or agent you are a combatant.
If you are a unarmed woman or child in the same building or vehicle as a combatant or suspected enemy solider or agent uncategorized. You are neither a combatant nor Collateral Damage (innocent civilian).
If you are an unarmed neighbor unfortunate enough to be happening by when we blow up a target you are collateral damage (innocent civilian).

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blight_ July 9, 2013 at 12:32 pm

Sounds like WW2 all over again.

Live in Germany or Japan? Bombs away!

That said, does anyone have a source for this "redefine combatant" thing that gets slung around?

majr0d July 8, 2013 at 2:33 pm

A LOT of EYE CANDY!

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brandy July 8, 2013 at 9:53 pm

are you kidding me? you obviously have never opened a Playboy magazine before.

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Tad July 8, 2013 at 2:55 pm

I know this is probably a silly, or obvious, question, but what needed capabilities would such aircraft address that current aircraft do not possess?

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hibeam July 8, 2013 at 3:37 pm

Takes off like a helicopter. Remains a helicopter. Lands safely.

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d. kellogg July 8, 2013 at 3:43 pm

Weapons aren't always developed around "what is needed", but often have been introduced thru the military cycle under an in-house development program that was "gee-whizzed" to The Brass who were wowed enough by the enhanced capabilities over the previous generations' systems.
Case in point: Stryker.

In the case of next-gen helicopter replacements, if sufficient advanced capability can be proven achieveable at reasonable investment (or enough fear is generated wherein we can't risk adversaries getting the capability first, .i e. stealth), then we will see revolutionary concepts take to the skies instead of just further evolutionary refinements of current helo designs.

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hibeam July 8, 2013 at 9:33 pm

The capability our current fleet does not posses is the ability to keep an overly large slow moving grossly overcompensated work force in place building more of these ultra expensive manned systems. Hope that helps.

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majr0d July 9, 2013 at 4:21 am

Tad, assuming you are asking a serious question these concepts have longer range and speed than traditional helicopters.

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hibeam July 8, 2013 at 3:35 pm

Why do we need attack helicopters? We have the IRS.

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mosquito4 July 8, 2013 at 4:41 pm

IRS is only here to screw the people of the U.S.A

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brandy July 8, 2013 at 9:50 pm

that's what you think.

we are pursuing a New World Order, a one world government. and the IRS, as an arm of the Money Trust that owns the US government, wants to tax everyone in every country.

is my explanation too complicated?

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Kurt Montandon July 9, 2013 at 3:48 am

No, it's just too stupid.

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brandy July 8, 2013 at 7:09 pm

the IRS needs attack helicopters. in fact, it has needed them for a long time, I think.

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Musson July 8, 2013 at 3:59 pm

Ah. You might want to consider COST an additional limiting factor if we actually want an aircraft that can be put into production.

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hibeam July 8, 2013 at 4:07 pm

We have to build it. To see what's in it. Try to keep up.

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Musson July 9, 2013 at 9:55 am

Ah yes. The Famous words of Bella Pelosi.

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Matt July 11, 2013 at 7:31 pm

i LOL'ed

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hibeam July 8, 2013 at 4:02 pm

Nice video but it seems to imply that our troops would be allowed to fire back in an area where a civilians stray dog might be harmed. That won't happen for another 3.5 years.

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Mitch S. July 8, 2013 at 4:27 pm

There's a quote:

“The Army backed out of the Osprey program very early in its history,” said Loren Thompson… They decided to stick with conventional rotorcraft,” he said, “and that’s proven to be a big mistake.”

So if The Army called Bell and said they were interested in 500 Ospreys Bell would tell 'em "Sorry, you're too late"? Yeah, right…

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blight_ July 8, 2013 at 7:09 pm

Once the Osprey was too small for the Humvee, or perhaps even a M-151 Jeep it was over.

Though maybe a Gator…

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tiger July 9, 2013 at 10:39 am

They don't roll of a line like Honda Civics. Production numbers like that would take years to meet.

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Mitch S. July 9, 2013 at 11:11 am

Even if the Army signed on 20 years ago they still would not have had a significant quantity for Iraq and Afghanistan.
Now that the machine is in service and the major bugs have been worked out, production could be ramped up in much less time than it took to develop the thing.
And i'd be willing to bet if the Army wanted a modified version for their requirements it could still be done for less money and in far less time than the original program.

There is often an advantage to being second to the technology party.
And I think the Army would have done well with their helos supplemented by a short-field cargo plane. The way the Air Force killed the JCA is scandalous.

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Rob July 10, 2013 at 4:51 pm

The JCA had a ridiculously high operating cost when compared to the C-130, especially with such a reduced payload. The capability was nice to have, but prohibitively expensive. Consider it a win that they were actually able to cut losses shot instead of continuing to piss away money like they do with every other program.

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ted July 10, 2013 at 8:21 pm

Bullshit.

the AF lied, blatantly, on the numbers. the JCA was procured because the AF refuses to fly intra-theater airlift. It was cheaper AND capable of doing a mission the air force refused to do and refuses to do.

The flying club is a ridiculous anachronism filed with pilots still waiting to bomb their way to victory. See also Air Sea Battle.

tmb2 July 10, 2013 at 9:13 pm

The Air Force's numbers put the C-27J operating costs at a third of the C-130s and the CH-47s they were replacing in theater. The worst-case scenario for the C-27J's lifecycle costs put it roughly equal to the C-130H.

blight_ July 9, 2013 at 12:34 pm

If the Army signed on it would be Army bickering with Marines about "what we want" for the Osprey, plus Navy and Air Force.

We now know that the PITA of the aircraft increases with the square of the number of services involved in its development.

e.g,
one service-> (1)^2=1
two services-> (2)^2=4x (Superbug, Navy/MC)
three services-> (3)^2=9x (JSF, Navy/AF/USMC)
four services-> (4)^2=16x (?)

Of course, this is also true of development with foreign powers. Thus the MBT-70 is 4x the pain of the Abrams or Leopard separately.

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blight_ July 11, 2013 at 9:11 am

What would stop the army from going back to bell and insisting on a bigger Osprey to carry more stuff?

Vertol had two tandem rotor prototypes, one big, one small. Marines got the small one since it was easier to keep aboard amphibs-the CH-46. Army wanted the larger one, the CH-47. Would it be ridiculously expensive to scale up the Osprey?

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Stan July 8, 2013 at 5:04 pm

I am sure he meant to say the only limit is our being broke.

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hibeam July 8, 2013 at 5:53 pm

How can we be broke? We are giving away free stuff faster than ever before. Surely we must be getting richer?

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brandy July 8, 2013 at 7:08 pm

getting richer on borrowed money (from China). does that count?

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hibeam July 8, 2013 at 5:50 pm

I like the way the tiny unmanned helicopter calls in the huge manned helicopter to fly in and engage the enemy. They got it exactly backwards.

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tmb2 July 8, 2013 at 6:46 pm

Um, no. They're called scouts. You make contact with the smallest element then bring your big guns to the fight.

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hibeam July 8, 2013 at 9:19 pm

They made sense in the old days. We are a lot smarter now. Now we send in robot scouts and the robot scouts engage the bad guys while more robot scouts swarm to the scene. What color is your horse by the way?

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tmb2 July 8, 2013 at 10:54 pm

Is 2008 old? That's the last time I can recall ground forces participating in a major battle with scouts in the lead (Baquba, Iraq). I'm sure there are a couple more I'm just not thinking of. Our "horses" are black, green, and tan and answer to the names Kiowa, Bradley, and Joe.

What are these robot swarms that you're referring to?

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majr0d July 9, 2013 at 4:27 am

Besides what you've already been told there is also often a lag time between the operator and the drone which is why we don't put guns on drones.

Don't forget guns are relatively cheap.

Everyone also seems to forget especially drone fans, that the next enemy might not let us communicate with drones.

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blight_ July 9, 2013 at 10:05 am

I don't believe in teleoperating everything from Creech, but the bandwidth demand to instruct a drone to drop a bomb at a particular GPS coord is relatively low. It's full motion high-rez video on a satellite link that brings drones to their knees.

I wonder if Link16 can push enough data to work a drone. Seeing mixed information on how much bandwidth it can push.

tiger July 9, 2013 at 10:41 am

Dim bulb, must write for SNL. Not a joke yet that was funny..

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hibeam July 10, 2013 at 7:28 pm

That guy is a pain. Why don't they block him?

blight_ July 8, 2013 at 9:34 pm

A general lack of trust in unmanned systems to do more than get shot at.

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John Mayeski July 8, 2013 at 6:01 pm

The video was pretty interesting, but I had to chuckle at the use of bare bone M4s in 2050. And how the heck did that hovering medical pod thing get into the chopper…anti-gravity…lol? I would have preffered some windows on that twin rotor/jet concept. Sensors can fail, and then your screwed.

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hibeam July 8, 2013 at 9:23 pm

Windows can fail. And then your knocked senseless. Forgive me if I don't reply to all six of your identical posts.

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John Mayeski July 8, 2013 at 6:04 pm
@HarryInventor July 8, 2013 at 6:29 pm

And which war is this for? The one against tribesmen with AK47s, 60yr old RPG designs and bags of fertilizer?

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hibeam July 8, 2013 at 9:26 pm

We have drones for that. We don't use them of course. Better to let GI's get blown up than to have liberal lunatics complaining about how drones scare innocent goats.

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blight_ July 8, 2013 at 9:33 pm

Not enough hellfires for every "tribesman"

I remain in favor of giving guns to the women. With the men…not sure.

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SJE July 15, 2013 at 2:43 pm

Malala Yusefsi shows how a teenage girl can do a whole lot more damage to the Taliban than a squadron of drones.

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blight_ July 15, 2013 at 3:30 pm

Does she?

I'll believe it when the NWFP changes. Just because the urban Pakistani thinks what was done to her was barbaric won't change reality in Pashtunistan.

@HarryInventor July 8, 2013 at 6:30 pm

Hint from previous flying dead-ends : More rotors = more to go wrong and huge increases in maintenance costs.

Heavy lift helicopter solution that looks EXACTLY like existing helicopter designs with improved 2010s engine tech would be far cheaper, better, more versatile and fit right in with existing requirements.

Why go for jet-packs, magic flying pods and levitating gizmos… the alternatives alreay work and we know how to use them.

Hint usa. You might even get foreign sales from modern heavy lift helicopters! You know… to pay your debts and fund your future?!?!?

Leave the Jetsons and Hollywood Wow-factor overspends alone until you have a secure future!

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Bob July 8, 2013 at 10:00 pm

Doubling current speeds and getting out of the low level AAA zone would be huge, whatever it takes to get that going.

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@HarryInventor July 9, 2013 at 8:14 am

…because Ahmed /w an AK47 would be more of a problem if you hung around for an extra 20 minutes?

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Thomas L. Nielsen July 9, 2013 at 10:29 am

If you happen to be within range of said AK47, yes.

Regards & all,

Thomas L. Nielsen
Luxembourg

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tigerr July 9, 2013 at 10:48 am

Uh, Harry. your existing designs are near max by physics & aerodynamics now. Engine tech will not fix that. Jet packs? Nice if your 007 And the flight time is about a minute…..

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USS ENTERPRISE July 8, 2013 at 7:01 pm

Can we have the Comanche back? Or is that, forever shelved?

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PolicyWonk July 8, 2013 at 7:10 pm

This video has been around for months.

Given that the Army can't get it together to determine if K-Max will fit their bill (seriously – it resupply of Army ground troops so different from resupply of Marines?), plus current state of affairs w/r/t acquisition, I seriously hope this doesn't go the same way as FCS, amongst many other programs.

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majr0d July 9, 2013 at 4:33 am

It's not just the Army. The Marines aren't operating K-max. They have contractors looking over their shoulders, doing the operating AND the maintaining. They are also operating from one pretty big well resourced base. Don't buy all the snake oil about the k-max. Ask how many have deployed? From where? Who is flying/maintaining them?

If you do, you'll notice the stories lack a HUGE amount of detail.

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stephen russell July 8, 2013 at 9:09 pm

why not use NOTAR in mix & save weight alone.
Merge TV show Airwolf copter with AH64 Apache,Awesome.

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d. kellogg July 9, 2013 at 9:55 am

Airwolf was too Hollywood for anything practical.
Such high speeds with turbo boost would most likely separate the rotor assembly from the rest of the aircraft, especially considering the wide chord blades of the 2-bladed Bell 222 it was derived from.

The pop out weapons also: a retractable integrated rocket launcher, magazine fed, would work, but not firing Copperheads, Zunis, Hellfires, Mavericks, Sidewinders, and all that other crap Airwolf had. The telescopic guns wouldn't work: too easy to jam the feeds, and couldn't guarantee headspace/timing of those twinned 50-cals.

The main drawback of NOTAR was that it required more engine power than a typical tail rotor to drive the fan necessary to draw sufficient airflow thru the tailboom to create an adequate control slipstream, and its mechanical components are more complex than it looks just from the outside. That's a key reason why it was never adopted outside the MD500/530 (or was it 560?) series helos.

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Thomas L. Nielsen July 9, 2013 at 10:35 am

To the best of my knowledge the NOTAR was used in the MD 520N (NOTAR version of the MD500), the MD 600N (larger version of the 520N) and the MD Explorer (larger again, and twin-engined).

There has been a number of other NOTAR concepts, but nothing that made it into production (again, AFAIK).

Regards & all,

Thomas L. Nielsen
Luxembourg

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tiger July 9, 2013 at 10:54 am

We need more weapons with theme music!!!!! How did thy rearm that thing in a mountain hide out anyway? Did they fly to Cabela's & load up on ammo?

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B.G. July 9, 2013 at 8:35 pm

So here's the deal with NOTAR:

Like d. kellogg's third paragraph says, it requires a lot of engine power to operate. Additionally, most of the NOTAR's ability to operate is driven by a phenomenon known as the Coanda Effect
http://youtu.be/TI-Nq9IIdMw (example of the coanda effect in action)

Basically, as the aircraft goes higher/hotter (Military aircraft are requiring this nowadays!) the effectiveness of the NOTAR system reduces significantly. Additionally, the system loses effectiveness as the aircraft's speed (Again, something DARPA and The Army were looking for with JMR).

ALSO: all of the extra structure that has to go into the fuselage tailboom of a NOTAR helicopter can make the aircraft VERY heavy, since the system weight grows exponentially with aircraft GW.

Just my $0.02

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James July 8, 2013 at 9:58 pm

Funny. The gang at AED are better known for slowing the process down, than for expediting innovative approaches. Probably for the best that they are looking at a long lead time taking them to 2050.

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Jeff July 9, 2013 at 12:47 am

My invention is a vertical take-off and landing (VTOL) aircraft that intends to make conventional airplanes and helicopters obsolete. All other concepts have failed. The invention remains undisclosed because I cannot pursue it on my own. No agency, including Army, wants to talk to me because little guys are not eligible for corporate welfare. Nobody cares.

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Mastro July 10, 2013 at 10:51 am

True- we really don't.

"The invention remains undisclosed because I cannot pursue it on my own"

Like your water engine and cold fusion reactor no doubt?

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blight_ July 10, 2013 at 11:20 am

Indeed, the Illuminati wishes to suppress cold fusion because infinite energy is somehow going to escape their control: not.

Don't see people building backyard nuclear reactors to deter the Illuminati and "free the energy" /sarc

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Jeff July 11, 2013 at 1:05 am

First of all, illuminati is the plural form. Blight, what the heck are you talking about? Energy is not my thing. Were all those engineers who designed your car or your computer illuminati? Anyway, it's nice that you replied. I hope you do it again.

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Jeff July 11, 2013 at 12:58 am

Thanks Mastro, at least you cared to reply. OK, you got me. I admit I do not know everything. What do you want me to do, sell my house to hire experts and attorneys? Do you think, I can compete against industry giants and win? Do you think that the invention is bad because there wasn't any good one for decades? Guess what, there were inventors who revolutionized the world (of aviation). At least I am not foolish enough to fight the system and get annihilated in the process. I hope you reply, sarcasm is OK.

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Dfens July 9, 2013 at 1:26 am

What I find humorous is the concept the Army has that just anyone can design a good VTOL aircraft. Just pull a good idea out of your ass and submit it. It's not like an aircraft is a complex system of systems with each one relying on the other to achieve flight. Hell no, we'll just offer up a slick new video and someone is bound to come up with the next new VTOL aircraft design. It's just like putting 10,000 monkeys in a room pounding on typewriters for 10,000 years. One of them is bound to come up with a work of Shakespeare any minute now. I'm sure they'll get just what they deserve out of this program, just like they always do with your money.

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@HarryInventor July 9, 2013 at 8:49 am

The landing of the troop carrying behemoth in the street made me think of 'Blackhawk Down' for some odd reason.

It's like the enemy aren't going to be firing back… except using magic ray guns and the general population in cities don't really exist.

My thoughts were… "ONE WELL-PLACED RPG-7…" and "The enemy are sure to just hide in their positions and not down the flying assets nor jam the elaborate comms that make this 'game' all nice and usa-ish!"

Hint. The enemy sometimes fire back and are often far smarter than you… they have to be! They have no magic toys!

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Dfens July 9, 2013 at 12:47 pm

Hell, you wouldn't go to a dentist just for the privilege of saying you were the proud recipient of the guy's first filling in a live human mouth. The US Army, on the other hand, is more than happy to have any idiot from off the street (although usually they prefer to have a committee of idiots, because that way there's less accountability) design their next aircraft. it's a f'ing stupid way to run a program. If they weren't run by morons, they'd have actual aircraft designers with a proven track record design their next VTOL vehicle. Any idiot would.

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@HarryInventor July 9, 2013 at 8:23 am

"We need… more! MORE! M O R E !"
Yeah… we need x-ray lasers that shoot out of the eyes of the tigers. BIG F* WHITE TIGERS! Yeah and they're suspended under the wings of a 12 rotor 223 tonne VTOL nuclear-powered submarine WITH a dish… A BIG dish…. On the roof. No wait! For picking up NASCAR in remote locations…. you know! For kids!"

"You are sooo right, general! I'm loving it already!"

"Where's ma pencil? Oh, this crayon will do!"

Somewhere over in the Pentagon, a roomful of 'interlektuals' snort koke and put their back into some imagineering… outside, a hungry war widow begs for loose change, while holding her thin infant, and wonders why gasoline is $37 a gallon!

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blight_ July 9, 2013 at 10:02 am

A Mk XXXIV Bolo with Hellrails for anti-Melconian planetary defense is called for, plus planetary siege capability.

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W_R_Monger July 9, 2013 at 7:28 pm

You must be thinking of Europe… $37/gal

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Podoaba March 25, 2014 at 3:45 pm

No sf3lo es que se agradezcan esos exrtas, sino que ademe1s los que incluyes en tus obras son un aute9ntico valor af1adido por lo riguroso de la documentacif3n que aportas con ellos.Me ha encantado esta pe1gina (como dices, con un estilo muy a lo Osprey) sobre el equipo de armas del caballero!Espero que en estos prf3ximos dedas previos a su salida nos sigas ensef1ando cosas, la portada definitiva y deme1s! Que9 ganas de tenerlo!

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William_C1 July 14, 2013 at 12:37 am

>implying the guys designing and building new equipment determine foreign policy

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Bob July 9, 2013 at 8:39 am

Dumb video with dumb writing and dumb actors

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USS ENTERPRISE July 9, 2013 at 7:56 pm

Hollywood.

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tiger July 9, 2013 at 11:00 am

All we were missing from this video was the GI Joe & Cobra guys. We need to develop more blind Ninja's And armed snowmobiles !

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tiger July 9, 2013 at 11:01 am

Oh, screw this. I want Gundams….

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d. kellogg July 9, 2013 at 12:30 pm

Naw, just gimme those cool fanwing gunships from Avatar.

Oddly, that sort of tech/design isn't really all that unrealistic if you look closely at the mechanics of it.
(I/m probably one of those very few geeks who didn't watch it for the story of a crippled human banging some blue space cat-chick, but rather for the tech of the "sky people" :-)

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stupid movie July 9, 2013 at 7:57 pm

Come on. They were shot down by some dragons. Wouldn't want that.

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d. kellogg July 10, 2013 at 3:18 pm

Wannabe dragons.
REAL dragons spit fire.
Can be countered by heat seeking missiles.
:-)

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blight_ July 10, 2013 at 3:45 pm

That's why you don't underpay/undersupply your forces. And bring PMC's, not just "security". Or bring in the state. The East India Company couldn't handle the sepoy rebellion…

Lessons from Europe's Conquest of The New World: it's easier to pit the natives against each other, you don't need as many soldiers to get the job done.

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rty July 9, 2013 at 1:19 pm

All of this seemed to be the future of warfare that outlets like Popular Mechanics were promising for today's armies when I was growing up.

A heavy dose of reality would help these designers, especially when the cost of all this fancy automation is taken into account.

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Trinulationtime July 9, 2013 at 2:21 pm

V-22 don´t fullfilled many of initial requeriments. Osprey was made as sustitute of various helicopters. It is not good enought to remplance any of them. it have good features but as a whole system don´t have a place to be.
If Physics Laws allowed it, a new concept is needed. And we all are thinking in helicopter-airplane hybrids. it´s a death alley. I dont have the solution, of course. The key element (unauthorized opinion) it is a really new, exotic and different main rotor.

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Mastro July 9, 2013 at 3:46 pm

“The only limiting factor is your imagination."

And a shrinking defense budget.

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d. kellogg July 10, 2013 at 8:18 am

Maybe there's the solution:
we stop havig actual "hardware wars" at all (where no one gets killed or maimed for real, and there's no collateral damage, and no phenomenally overpriced-yet-underperforming weapon) and just fight it out in Hollywood CGI.
Best special effects wins.

Remember men: your imagination is the key to our victory!

:-P

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jffourquet July 9, 2013 at 5:21 pm

The Army spend billions for the Commanche and ARH and has nothing to show for it. This will be no different. Lets get back to basics, replace the M4 with a reliable rifle that a soldier can depend on. And take the corrupt contracting officers out of the picture (you know the O5 and 06's who deep six anything that is not a colt then retire and work for colt).

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W_R_Monger July 9, 2013 at 7:36 pm

A piston operated AR is a good start if they don't mind sacrificing range and bump the caliber up to somewhere in the range of a .308. That however won't happen because people in the military can't control anything larger than 6mm, kicks too hard or whatever…

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d. kellogg July 10, 2013 at 8:23 am

The problem with such an analogy is that those people who can't control the recoil of anything larger than a varmint cartridge
are NOT the grade of people most desireable for being the formidable boots on the ground we need to actually do the fighting and hold the territory.

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Robb July 10, 2013 at 9:24 pm

6.8×43 = Just replace barrel, bolt and mag on M-4 and now you have a weapon that is light, short and with the new (ATK/Federal) ammo and new barrel tech one can reach close too 600M. A low price wonderful start. 3 Arab nations just signed contracts with LWRC, ATK/Federal and Magpul. These three companies have joined their own R&D money to build this next individual low cost weapon system.

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d. kellogg July 11, 2013 at 7:18 am

But there's a limiting factor in itself: the Remingon 6.8 SPC, the 6.5 Grendel, the SSK 6.5 MPC, quite a number of "replacement cartridges" have been developed, but all have shackled themselves to the notion of clinging to M16/AR15/M4-sized magazines and overall cartridge dimensions.

Numerous websites (many with more technical clout than a lot of the fanboy noise) have discussed that the best (or at least, considerably more desireable) solution could well be some kind of interim "mid-range" caliber/cartridge that, with today's propellants and ballistics know-how, can favorably surpass the recognized 5.56mm limitations and even encroach on many of the capabilities of 7.62mm, but without the bulk and weight of the larger 7.62mm ammunition and weapons.

Weight of the weapon is not a considerable limitation: General Dynamics (or was it ATK?) team developed a medium MG around a .338 cartridge creating a gun no heavier than a majority of 7.62mm weapons, and LSAT R&D has shown favorable results at lighter weapons in the 5.56mm class as well.

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guestly July 9, 2013 at 6:54 pm

So, 100 knots equals 116 mph, but 280 knots equals 322 mph?

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W_R_Monger July 9, 2013 at 7:40 pm

100 knot = 115.077 944 8 mile/hour (mph)
280 knot = 322.218 245 44 mile/hour (mph)
close enough?
from onlineconversions.com http://www.onlineconversion.com/speed_common.htm

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USS ENTERPRISE July 9, 2013 at 7:58 pm

Yes.

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W_R_Monger July 9, 2013 at 7:32 pm

duPont already tried a thrust vectoring VTOL and it flew a day late and a dollar short…

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Reid Smith July 9, 2013 at 9:15 pm

Our biggest problem is not the aging of our aircraft fleet or their top speed, it is the ease at which you can shoot them down. Shouldn't we put more focus on protection against our most common adversary weapons (7.32×39, 7.62x54R and RPG)?
This CAN be done using ESAPI plates (from our body armor) to cover the aircraft like fish scales and supplemented with transparent armor windshields and RPG nets that we use on our MRAP's.

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d. kellogg July 10, 2013 at 8:36 am

Apaches have used a boron carbide material around the crew pit area, and IIRC there is some use of Kevlar now as well.
But the problem with uparmoring aircraft in general is it means you have to sacrifice tactical payload (troops, cargo, and weapons you can carry) to make up for the extra weight of sufficient armor.

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tiger July 13, 2013 at 8:23 pm

No, no no………

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Reid Smith July 9, 2013 at 9:31 pm

Another focal point for aircraft development should be having the ability to land an all terrain armored vehicle so that once on the ground our forces aren't limited to foot mobility in pursuing bad guys. A vehicle like a JLTV or MATV type with 4-6 troops would be good, although something with treads would be better. An armored aircraft that could conduct vertical forcible entry and then off load a vehicle or two that can close with and destroy the enemy would be an awesome capability. This would be much better than the Vietnam era technology of highly vulnerable aircraft being able to off load a squad or platoon of dismounted infantry soldiers.

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d. kellogg July 10, 2013 at 8:42 am

Good points,
but reflecting on the fallacies of the failed Army FCS program: what is sufficient mobility and armor to protect troops deployable by air?
Can we make the sufficiently-protected vehicle light enough to be flown
where we need it when we need it, yet it will be survivable enough against most threats when it gets deployed there?

FCS showed that even with latest tech, it couldn't be done.

Granted, it would be nice to one day see some kind of assault lander that can deploy a ground combat vehicle.
Until then, we will only ever have Hollywood giving us Aliens' Marine dropship deploying an APC and LucasArts' Republic gunship LAATs dropping six-legged all terrain assault walkers.
:-P

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blight_ July 10, 2013 at 11:21 am

Or Skycranes moving very light vehicles around…if we still had them, they could probably carry a Wiesel around.

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blight_ July 10, 2013 at 1:36 pm

I would be happy to see the return of the ACH-47. Designing an "all terrain armored vehicle" is a challenge in futility, especially if you want it helicopter transportable.

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d. kellogg July 10, 2013 at 3:24 pm

In all serious, the German Army has proven its Weisels could be flown in its Stallion helicopters (the earlier two-engined Stallions, not the bigger 3-engined Super Stallions the USMC uses).

But Weisel isn't a light tank: they classify it as a weapons carrier, with minimal armor.

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blight_ July 10, 2013 at 3:44 pm

Something lighter than the M113 (M114?); but any light vehicle will suffer against man-portable anti-tank weapons and become an expensive liability that doesn't contribute to the fight. More likely than not, vehicles will be used to transport people to fighting distance, and they'll have to cover the last hundred meters dismounted.

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blight_ July 10, 2013 at 7:53 pm

Too much Halo. A Pelican dropping a warthog is going to get slammed by Iglas or a 14.5mm HMG on a truck.

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d. kellogg July 11, 2013 at 7:31 am

That's the limitation of any large VTOL aircraft (helo, tiltrotor, or whatever): it's most vulnerable to even small arms fire when it's in its landing and take off transitional flight envelopes.

Most will also be big, lumbering, ungainly and mostly minimally maneuvering targets as they fly laden with cargoes in and out of combat environments.

There's video out there of Hind gunships, their Mi8/Mi-17 brethren, even an Mi-26 or two being engaged with MANPADS.
Most VTOL types can be carved up by even 5.45 (Russians make tungsten cored AP) and 5.56mm automatic weapons quite effectively, as their skin is little more than thin material for aerodynamic purposes and protection from the elements. Underneatn, few components are structurally capable of handling small arms damage, especially electronicsand electrical lines so prevalent in today's aircrat.

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tiger July 13, 2013 at 8:22 pm

It beats flying troops in Waco & Horsa Gliders. Now that must have been real fun?

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A.J. CARIAGA July 9, 2013 at 9:48 pm

MORE SUPER SPECIALIZED A/C ARE NEEDED NOT GENERAL DESIGNS

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Thomas L. Nielsen July 10, 2013 at 3:49 am

"Read my message. I have the solution…."

So you keep saying. Considering the track record of "garage shop VTOL projects", I am still waiting to be convinced.

Regards & all,

Thomas L. Nielsen
Luxembourg

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d. kellogg July 10, 2013 at 8:14 am

Exactly.
That Moller fella has been trying to get civilian VTOL flying cars to work for years, and still is nowhere near anything realistically feasible that's actually safe and reliable enough to fly.
Such novelty notions get even more complicated when you expect to additionally carry payloads of cargo, troops, and weapons weighing several thousand pounds.

Could be a key factor why Burt Rutan (who started small) and his Scaled Composites team has always seemed to stay away from helicopters, yet have created some truly impressive fixed wing aircraft.

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tyler hafler July 10, 2013 at 1:38 pm

I have a great future design and I would like to talk to the head of this operation in person call me at 7656313674

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d. kellogg July 11, 2013 at 7:46 am

That's not the way it works.
You have to watch the DoD-issued RFIs and other program announcements, and submit your bid to their requirements.
Or actually build (and patent) working prototypes to prove you aren't just some nutcase.
Hey, it worked for those Howe & Howe Tech guys who offered that Switchblade or whatever fast tracked vehicle concept.
Even them Red Jacket Firearms folks had their days in the procurement spotlight.

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Phillip Leech July 10, 2013 at 3:04 pm

Do we have the Osprey already? And shouldn't they fix that first, before they go spending money on another one just like it?

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tmb2 July 10, 2013 at 6:46 pm

The Army doesn't use the Osprey.

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tiger July 13, 2013 at 8:16 pm

What rock have you been under?

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ereilad July 11, 2013 at 8:09 am

Seems to me anything that pushes the technology envelope could first be tested in an unmanned version. Make sure it is worth the trouble before committing the country to a big development project with the inevitable cost overruns. Both versions if successful could have their jobs to do in the modern battlefield.

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ajerusalem July 11, 2013 at 10:33 am

The army needs to pick its battles when it comes to what it is going to build new and what it isn't, and this starts with the Osprey and the Sikorsky X2. Both are more proven than these hypothetical platforms, and between the two of them they would fill all the roles of the Apache and Blackhawk, but in a way that was divided up differently.

I think a slightly modified version of the Osprey could serve as a very capable Utility/Attack aircraft. There is already provision for a .50 gatling machine gun – this should be redesigned so that it feeds its ammo through the floor instead of from an external box, so that its ammo can be replenished in flight. Hardpoints would need to be created on top of the large side sponsons (with proper rotor clearance) and under the belly of the aircraft (with proper ground clearance). This would allow modular fitting of gun and rocket pods and missiles. Specifically, I could see a bushmaster 30mm cannon mounted in a fixed forward position, with ammo feeding inside the aircraft through a door designed for such purpose – this would allow for higher ammo capacity. 1 or 2 of these plus pods of APKWS rockets would be a good start. Finally, the osprey could easily incorporate the ramp launched AGM 176 Griffin missile out of its rear door. Such an aircraft would function in a similar role as the Hind gunship when fitted with armament, filling the higher altitude overwatch role of the apache with greater speed and climb ability. The modularity of it all would allow ospreys to reconfigure to more conventional cargo mode depending on need – similar to the Marine KC-130/Harvest Hawk.

If this option were pursued, the X2 could then be developed to fill the capability gaps that the Osprey would have. Where the osprey would do heavier assault and cargo operations, the X2 would do the lower capacity utility, command, and medevac jobs, as well as fill the lower altitude attack role shared by the Kiowa and Apache, with a minigun or 20mm cannon and hardpoints for rockets and missiles.

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Mastro July 12, 2013 at 3:13 pm

"There is already provision for a .50 gatling machine gun – this should be redesigned so that it feeds its ammo through the floor instead of from an external box, so that its ammo can be replenished in flight"

Why bother? They took the mingun out due to weight issues. More ammo would just weigh more.

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ajerusalem July 12, 2013 at 4:39 pm

This is an idea for the conversion of the Osprey into an updated utility attack aircraft. you want more than one box of .50 call hanging under the belly for extended support.

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R. B. Harp July 11, 2013 at 1:02 pm

Has anyone looked at the Carter Copter???? Seems this would be the logical and most economic way to go. Check itout at : http://www.carteraviationtechnologies.com

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strumpanzer July 13, 2013 at 5:37 pm

Here is the design they need to bring back. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lockheed_AH-56_Chey

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tiger July 13, 2013 at 8:14 pm

Why? This is 2013, not 1968……

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Miron July 13, 2013 at 11:45 pm

Why do they keep dwelling on propeller based vessels?

Jet turbine, possibly atomic based. Replaceable panels, modular sections, built mostly of composites, that can be regenerated to mint condition in the field.

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majr0d July 9, 2013 at 12:04 pm

Blight – Guns. Only guns(ground mounted) remote operated have the operator in close proximity in comparison to aerial ops.

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blight_ July 9, 2013 at 12:28 pm

How much lag between wanting to fire and rounds down-range is acceptable? I suppose image recognition could be used to train a UAV to shoot at a tank on the move, but anything small and fleeting, like people trying to hide in a crowd or a car trying to hide in traffic is tough for humans, let alone humans teleoperating something from any distance.

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Riceball July 9, 2013 at 12:35 pm

Great idea except that it sounds like something that could be very easily exploited by Al Qaeda types. All they have to do is dress up a car or bus with some basic screens and paint to look just enough like a tank for the image recognition software to target and fire on it. Then after it's all said and done they go and take pictures showing the world how we "murdered" innocent women and children. Sure we'd show gun camera footage showing how it looked like a tank but the damage would already be done and people would call into question the usage of drones with automated targeting and attack systems.

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majr0d July 9, 2013 at 12:37 pm

Considering gun's typically hit the target within a second of firing and troops may be nearby I'm thinking less than a second.

That's just one of my issues though. Everyone ignores jamming.

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d. kellogg July 10, 2013 at 8:01 am

Wouldn't even need to put pylons under the Osprey/tiltrotor gunship's wings.

They could just as readily adapt some sort of chute-launch system like the Derringer or whatever they call the ViperStrike (or Griffin?) tube launchers deploying the weapon from inside AC/MC-130s.

Or they could pursue something along the lines of the OV-10's ventral stores stations, like how they mount rocket pods under the machine gun sponsons.

Another consideration though when cluttering up the underwings of a tiltrotor: how understood are the changes in aerodynamics during transitional flight when underwing stores are mounted that will easily create additional turbulence under the wings during the rotor phase downdraft?
That could be a key reason we've yet to see Ospreys mounting underwing fuel tanks.

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ajerusalem July 11, 2013 at 12:22 am

To add to the heavy lift: It should fall somewhere in between current heavy lift and c130 capacity, ideally able to lift 1 LAV sized vehicle and retain reasonable performance. Then, the Air Force should be left to develop a c130 replacement that offers a significant step up in payload from c130 – either a Super Short Take off and landing tilt wing aircraft, or buy A400 off the shelf.

So rundown:
Light scout: FireScout
Light resupply: KMAX
Light Attack/Utility: Sikorsky X2
Medium Utility/Attack: Osprey
Heavy Lift: New design
Close Air Support: WARTHOG!
Theatre Lift: C130J-30/A400M/New Aircraft

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