Home » Air » Boeing and Sikorsky Name its Next Generation Helicopter

Boeing and Sikorsky Name its Next Generation Helicopter

by Mike Hoffman on October 23, 2013

JMR 1Boeing and Sikorsky announced Monday that the two defense industry giants that their team would name their Joint Multi-Role (JMR) helicopter technology demonstrator, Defiant.

Officials from both companies said the name represented the need to defy common technologies and purse a next generation solution to the Army’s helicopter fleet.

The Joint Multi-Role program is designed to replace the Army’s current fleet of Blackhawks, Apaches and Chinooks by the 2030s. Boeing and Sikorsky displayed a model of what their aircraft might look like at the Association of the U.S. Army’s annual conference in Washington D.C. this week.

Army officials want a faster, more fuel-efficient helicopter that could cover a vastly larger mission area. This would increase the combat radius and also improve arrival times for rescues operations and medical evacuations.

A faster helicopter would decrease the need to at times forward position fuel and supplies for crews on longer or extended missions. A big part of the push is to engineer a new helicopter able to reach super high speeds while retaining an ability to hover, service officials explained.

So far, the Army has spent about $20 million on the effort, but plans to spend up to $217 million on air vehicle demonstration efforts and another $70 million on mission equipment technologies such as software, electronics and sensors.

While some of the requirements for the helicopter are still being determined, some early indications call for a high-speed helicopter that can travel at speeds between 170 and 300 knots. In addition, the specifications call for an air vehicle that can fly with a combat radius of 424 kilometers and hover with a full-load at what’s called high/hot conditions – 95-degrees Fahrenheit and altitudes of 6,000 feet.

The Army announced that four teams won $6.5 million contracts for the first development stage the Future Vertical Lift (FVL) initiative. Those four team include Team Defiant as well as Bell Helicpter and Textron as well as AVX Aircraft Co. and Karem Aircraft.

Bell and Textron had a model of their potential aircraft also on display at AUSA.

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{ 49 comments… read them below or add one }

Steve B. October 23, 2013 at 4:27 pm

This had to be bad reporting.

It sounds like there's one program, with one helicopter to replace Apache, Blackhawk and Chinook.

There's no possibility for this to succeed


FormerDirtDart October 23, 2013 at 6:17 pm

Four size configurations are envisioned:
-JMR-Light: Scout version to replace the OH-58 Kiowa; introduction planned for 2030.
-JMR-Medium: Utility and attack versions to replace the UH-60 Black Hawk and AH-64 Apache; introduction planned for 2027-2028.
-JMR-Heavy: Cargo version to replace the CH-47 Chinook; introduction planned for 2035.
-JMR-Ultra: New ultra-sized version for vertical lift aircraft with performance similar to fixed-wing tactical transport aircraft, such as the C-130J Super Hercules and the Airbus A400M Atlas; introduction planned for 2025.


blight_ October 23, 2013 at 8:16 pm

I hope these aren't all supposed to have 70% parts commonality and be single-source out of a single program winner.

What I find pleasing is that they may fork the attack and utility helicopters from common parts, like Cobra/Iroquois. Can't go wrong there. Unless they want a utility helicopter that fights like a gunship a la Hind or Blackhawk Direct Action Penetrator?

Presumably no intent to collaborate with the Navy to slot the Heavy in for the Sea Stallion and Ultra for COD?


blight_ October 24, 2013 at 8:06 am

Obligatory call to arm the -heavy and -ultra versions.

If you can kick off missiles and viper strike from a harvest hawk C-130, perhaps these mods could be ported to the heavier versions of JMR? Or a roll-on/roll-off refueling system for JMR-Ultra?


tmb2 October 23, 2013 at 6:20 pm

You're right that the program is often poorly described here. The JMR program calls for several different helicopter classes to replace the entire fleet, but they're toying with the idea of a single airframe replacing the Blackhawk and the Apache. I really hope they don't think they can put passengers in an attack helicopter.

This first phase is mostly about figuring out what technologies are possible and affordable and seem to be focused on a Blackhawk replacement.


FormerDirtDart October 24, 2013 at 9:27 am

AVX Aircraft have put out some art on their concept:
Utility- http://goo.gl/lcnyYa
Attack- http://goo.gl/3musng


blight_ October 24, 2013 at 11:16 am

Is it necessary for the attack version to have 90% commonality, down to using pretty much the exact same frame?

Thought gunships should be somewhat more compact to present a smaller target? Or is that just silly armchair thinking?


FormerDirtDart October 24, 2013 at 11:38 am

I really can't disagree with you. But think of how much ammo for the 30mm that could be carried. And, the possibility of reloading launchers in flight. Or carrying additional fuel to remain on station for longer periods.

Even with that, It does seem more logical for utility/attack families to have a commonality sharing more like the UH-1 & AH-1, engines/rotor systems/tailbooms. Not to mention that it just seems more advantageous for an attack helicopter to use tandem seating, allowing the pilot and gunner more unobstructed views.

Now personally, I like AVX's concept more in the "Heavy" role. Though, the prevailing direction in that role seems to be leaning tiltrotor, despite it's degradation of vertical lift at higher altitudes.

PolicyWonk October 24, 2013 at 8:05 am

At least they knew enough not to call the program the "Joint Strike Helicopter" ;-P

OTOH, the Europeans have a chopper already built that pretty much fills the bill – they could build a version of that under license – but then its "Not Invented Here", and wouldn't be a likely to get the program managers the cushy defense jobs they want when they retire from the service.


FormerDirtDart October 24, 2013 at 9:09 am

Which European helicopter is already built that pretty much fills the bill?


blight_ October 24, 2013 at 11:39 am

…the Hind? Don't know…


pedro October 24, 2013 at 2:41 pm

clay October 24, 2013 at 10:54 am

I think they need to call it the Lokota and i think it looks cool


IknowIT October 23, 2013 at 10:49 pm

OK I will bite- Defiant? Really?


Gunnie October 23, 2013 at 11:46 pm

Oh dear – sounds like another JSF in the making

JSH ???



CanonCocker October 24, 2013 at 7:18 am

I'm not so sure this is about one particular helicopter replacing another particular helicopter. The Defiant is more of testing a particular different technology application that can be used on all helicopters. Basically two sets of counter rotating blades and a pusher prop in the back, for more speed better range. I can easily see this applied to an Appache, Blackhawk, Pave Lows, although NOT the Chinook. If Sikorsky is working on it then it has promise of being worth the money.


blight_ October 24, 2013 at 8:04 am

Indeed, where would the pusher go on a chinook?


FormerDirtDart October 24, 2013 at 10:36 am
Aerospace worker October 24, 2013 at 3:41 pm

Well if Boeing is involved, it guaranteed to be an cost-overrun ill fated flop. Just look at Boeings union conflicts to see how well they deal with problems.


oblatt1 October 24, 2013 at 10:12 am

The next generation is absolutely guaranteed to have lower capabilities than the Chinook, blackhawk and Apache. Its driven by the simple needs of the contractors to lower quality and deliver less for more.

Start looking for fanciful stories about how it can drop off a truck and then perform as a gunship before medivacing.


RCDRONE October 24, 2013 at 10:25 am

Boeing has always made the strangest looking aircraft.


Bman October 24, 2013 at 10:44 am

Are we ever going to see something similar to the Commanche? That was one awesome machine that never got to see the light of day. I hope the Attack and/or scout versions will use different stealth technologies to increase its survivability.


FormerDirtDart October 24, 2013 at 10:57 am

There is, of course. the obvious choice for the JMR-Ultra: http://pinktentacle.com/images/10/komatsuzaki_7_l


Bill October 24, 2013 at 11:54 am

Let's name this helicopter "Fat Cat". This name would honor all the lobbyist's
and Generals, and companies that make a fortune from the poor tax payer.
If it's not broke, don't fix it. The Blackhawk is just fine. Afterall, the taliban
forrces don't have any helicopters and are beating us hands down and into the ground.


Mark Rukovishnikoff October 24, 2013 at 12:38 pm

Get some!!!!


Bob October 24, 2013 at 10:08 pm

Bill, it says that they would replace them by 2030's What will the blackhawks we have now look like then?


Bob October 24, 2013 at 10:05 pm

I understood that the technology would be what replaces all 3 of them, not one helicopter. The technology is a dual rotor and they look like big bad rotors that used in the right size would replace the chinook.


helotrekkie October 25, 2013 at 2:06 pm

The last "ship" named Defiant, while only on TV, didn't fare so well. Hopefully this program won't disappear! For reference: http://www.chakoteya.net/startrek/64.htm


blight_ October 25, 2013 at 2:29 pm

To channel my inner nerd, the Defiants were the more practical class of ship in Starfleet. They were the PT boats of Starfleet while they were focused on hippie-science-families-with-children-mobiles like the Galaxy, Nebula and Excelsior class, which turned out to suck for wartime applications.

It was the equivalent of putting dependents on an aircraft carrier, and not having proper escorts while operating. (Examples of bad experiences by Big-Crappy-Ships: USS Odyssey, Enterprise-D are just for starters.)

I would try to avoid comparisons between Little Crappy Ship in the same sentence as the USS Defiant, or the USS Sao Paolo-renamed-Defiant


Wayne October 25, 2013 at 6:19 pm

The new Cheyenne


Win November 1, 2013 at 10:45 am

What happened to the Comanche. Old news I guess.


blight_ October 24, 2013 at 11:41 am

I'm curious of the Soviet experience with the Hind. Granted they only really put it through its paces in Afghanistan, and we now know from first hand experience that Afghanistan isn't a fun place for helicopters at all. Perhaps a combination transport/gunship would've done better at sea level, or with more powerful engines of today.


blight_ October 24, 2013 at 11:46 am

The other thought is maybe there is room for more than one kind of gunship. One kind to just look like the utility helicopter, with similar range and speed, and the other to be specialist, or somesuch?


tmb2 October 24, 2013 at 1:00 pm

All of our transport helicopters have gunners on the sides for self defense and to protect troops during landing. The Little Bird has gun and rocket pods to provide support once they drop off their guys, but it's not meant to stay in a fight very long. The AH-1 was built slender to provide a small profile, and the Apache was built bulkier for more armor, weapons, and range.


blight_ October 24, 2013 at 1:06 pm

What is your position on going with transports converted to sustained-firefight gunships?

Suddenly I remember the ACH-47…perhaps a little overkill?


tmb2 October 24, 2013 at 1:07 pm

Making room for passengers on what should be a dedicated attack platform is wasted space. You're either taking away from what could be a better gunship by making it a bigger, slower, or less equipped airframe, or putting the passengers in danger.


blight_ October 24, 2013 at 1:10 pm

What are your thoughts on having a larger gunship to increase loiter time, either in the form of more room for ammo, more room for fuel, or reloading weapons systems in flight?


tmb2 October 24, 2013 at 1:24 pm

When you say "sustained fire" do you mean a bunch of machine guns or a tank-killing platform like the Apache? The Apache is armored, maneuverable, and has a suite of weapons and systems designed to reach out and touch someone. Trying to convert a transport to do the same thing sounds impractical and dangerous.


tmb2 October 24, 2013 at 1:29 pm

There's a limit to how big a gunship can be before its profile just screams "smack me out of the sky." I don't know what those magic dimensions are, but it is a factor. The Apache has a fairly sleek profile, but is also armored and can conduct deep attacks. Too small of an aircraft and you lack fuel and weapons. Too large and you're a bigger target, less maneuverable, and weigh too much.


FormerDirtDart October 24, 2013 at 3:21 pm

If that is the aircraft PolicyWonk is suggesting, then he's a dimwitted twit. It's an experimental compound helicopter with no operational capability.
EADS withdrew it's JMR proposal which was "widely expected to be based on its X3 high-speed hybrid helicopter"
Emphasis should be placed on "based".


Joe_Sovereign October 24, 2013 at 4:59 pm

Eurocopter X3 was a technology demonstrator not a prototype or production aircraft..


majr0d October 24, 2013 at 3:35 pm

tmb – I agree with much of your points but it's not necessarily exclusionary. There's a reason TF160 uses the MH60 airframe as a gunship and the Hind can carry troops though it's pretty limited, a fire team.

I prefer to leave as much flexibility as possible to the vendors as long as they fulfill the minimum requirements.

On the other hand, there is always the danger of adding too much to a system in an effort to make it multimission capable and screwing the pooch.


blight_ October 24, 2013 at 3:35 pm

The plan was to demonstrate it, then have American taxpayers pay for R&D….


pedro October 25, 2013 at 11:00 am

I agree, it's (X3) experimental and not necessarily fit for the role.
I was just answering to the question, I don't see another European chopper that would fit in this description.

The point is just like you said.. "based"


FormerDirtDart October 24, 2013 at 3:50 pm

The Eurocopter X3 is no more a viable candidate for the JMR-TD submission than the Sikorsky X2
And, if the Eurocopter X3 is the aircraft PolicyWonk is referring to when he stated "he Europeans have a chopper already built that pretty much fills the bill"..then I continue to stand by my earlier posting.


blight_ October 25, 2013 at 2:33 pm

"There's a reason TF160 uses the MH60 airframe as a gunship"

What is that reason?


majr0d October 27, 2013 at 1:30 pm

Well, TF160 is typically operating in austere locations. Common airframes makes logistics and less importantly training easier. The AH64 isn't optimized for air to air refueling and can't carry additional troops like snipers. You get that flexibility with a blackhawk.

Finally, the AH64 is an awesome attack helo but its focus when designed was tanks. TF160 targets typically aren't going to have armor around and if so the MH60 DAPS can be armed with hellfires. The 20mm's on the DAPS are enough for the job.


blight_ October 27, 2013 at 3:54 pm

Could one say that the DAP is designed to hit targets that don't have much in the way of hitting back?


majr0d October 27, 2013 at 4:33 pm

I would say DAP is designed to provide rotary aerial support for special ops forces. I don't know if it's ever been given stand alone strike missions like an Apache. We don't tend to employ our SOF at well defended targets.


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