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US Army Chief of Staff General James C McConville has witnessed a flight demonstration by  the Sikorsky-Boeing Joint Multi-Role Technology Demonstrator (JMR-TD) for the Future Vertical Lift (FVL) Assault Aircraft.

In 2014, the Army selected the Bell and Sikorsky-Boeing teams to continue the Joint Multi-Role Technology Demonstrator (JMR-TD) to flight demonstration, proving transformational vertical lift capabilities while reducing risk for Future Vertical Lift (FVL) efforts. The Bell V-280 VALOR is a tilt-rotor aircraft that made its inaugural flight in December 2017 and has since reached speeds in excess of 340mph.

Sikorsky-Boeing Flight

The Sikorsky-Boeing tech demonstrator, the SB-1 DEFIANT first took flight in March 2019 and leverages Sikorsky’s X2 technology with a rigid compound rotor and pusher prop. The SB-1 has recently reached speeds of 250mph. Both Industry teams have made significant contributions to the tech demonstrator programme and have provided invaluable flight data to the Army requirements developers for FVL platforms.

Coming off the heels of the Army Requirements Oversight Council approval of the Abbreviated Capability Development Document (A-CDD) for the Future Long Range Assault Aircraft (FLRAA), the Army Chief of Staff took the opportunity to visit each of the tech demonstrators for a firsthand assessment of their transformational vertical lift technologies.

“I’m excited to see what everyone is doing to transform army aviation,” McConville stated.

Stephanie C. Hill, Executive Vice President, Lockheed Martin Rotary and Mission Systems said, “It was a pleasure to host General McConville, the Army’s FVL Cross Functional Team and PEO Aviation at our flight test facility in West Palm Beach, Florida. During their visit, we flew both of our technology demonstrators, FARA (S-97 RAIDER) and FLRAA (SB>1 DEFIANT), and showed the speed, low-level agility, maneuverability and scalability of our transformational X2 Technology aircraft. We believe this capability will provide the US Army with unmatched military utility to conduct Reconnaissance, Attack and Air Assault Missions from operational distances in Joint All Domain Operations.”

FVL Programmes

Flying at twice the speed and three times the range of the current UH-60 fleet, FLRAA will provide transformational advances in terms of lethality and survivability in Multi Domain Operations with significantly enhanced air assault and aero medevac capabilities. These advancements will prove critical for Army operations in a theater like the Indo-Pacific where the dominant geographical feature is water, though land forces remain the predominant military force in the majority of nations in the region.

The Army plans to publish requirements informed by the JMR-TD activities in a request for proposals to industry for the FLRAA program by the summer of fiscal year 2021. FVL is the Army’s number three modernisation priority with an ambitious schedule to field the first unit equipped with FLRAA by fiscal year 2030.

Jack Richardson