Wednesday will be a big day for helicopter OEMs and could shape the future of the industry for decades to come, when Phase One proposals are due into the Army Aviation Applied Technology Directorate. The proposals will likely lead to the construction of Joint Multi-role demonstration aircraft (JMR TD) that could fly as early as 2017, with the start of production expected between 2025 and 2030.
The program is envisioned to field replacements for models that are currently the backbone of U.S. military aviation, including the AH-1Z Cobra and AH-64D Apache gunships, CH-47F Chinook, OH-58D Kiowa, UH-60M Black Hawk and the UH-1Y Huey.
At this stage, conventional, compound and tiltrotor technologies are in the mix of considerations, although the Army’s performance goals–speed greater than 170 knots, a range of at least 497 nm, and the ability to meet the 6,000 foot msl/95 degree F high/hot requirements–would seem to rule out conventional designs. JMR supports the Army’s Future Vertical Lift (FVL) initiative to create the next generation of vertical lift utility and attack aircraft.
This is the first proposed large-scale, non-incremental fleet modernization of military helicopters since the Bell UH-1 was introduced in the 1960s, and the implications for technology trickle-down to the civil market loom large.