U.S. Army Issues Draft Solicitation for Future Helo

 - August 31, 2012, 9:50 AM
Different configurations are being explored for the U.S. Army’s next-generation Joint Multi-Role (JMR) aircraft, as this graphic illustrates. (Photo: U.S. Army)

The U.S. Army issued a draft solicitation seeking technical and cost proposals from industry to develop an air vehicle for its next-generation helicopter requirement, known as the Joint Multi-Role (JMR) aircraft. The first phase of the JMR technology demonstration effort would produce two demonstrator aircraft in 2017.

The air vehicle solicitation comes after the Army Aviation Applied Technology Directorate awarded contracts last year to four companies–Boeing, Sikorsky, Bell-Boeing and AVX Aircraft–to conduct JMR configuration trades and analysis studies. The second phase of the technology demonstration will focus on mission systems.

The JMR effort, part of the Department of Defense’s Joint Future Vertical Lift program, aims to develop a next-generation family of helicopters to replace the Army’s current aging fleet by 2030. According to the draft solicitation, or broad agency announcement (BAA) published on August 17, the first phase of the JMR technology demonstration will address the technical risk of a “medium class” vertical takeoff and landing aircraft. In testimony before a subcommittee of the House Armed Services Committee in March, Maj. Gen. William Crosby, the Army’s program executive officer for aviation, said the initial effort will focus on the attack and utility mission areas, which suggests a successor to the AH-64 Apache or UH-60 Black Hawk.

The Army did not specify performance criteria for the JMR. In the past it has said that a helicopter capable of more than 170 knots, with a combat range greater than 800 km (497 miles) and the ability to hover with full combat load at 6,000 feet msl and 95 degrees F are among capabilities sought for the JMR.

The anticipated funding for the first phase of the JMR technology demonstration is $200 million “for two complete demonstration efforts,” according to the BAA. The field of competitors will likely be narrowed after a preliminary design and risk review scheduled in the third quarter of Fiscal Year 2014 “to match available funding or to minimize program risk.” First flights would be in the fourth quarter of Fiscal Year 2017.