Home » Aviation » U.S. Army Selects Bell and Sikorsky/Boeing to Build Prototypes for Next Generation Helicopter Program


U.S. Army Selects Bell and Sikorsky/Boeing to Build Prototypes for Next Generation Helicopter Program

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SB-1 Defiant. Boeing Photo

SB-1 Defiant. Boeing Photo

The U.S. Army has picked designs from Bell Helicopter and a Sikorsky/Boeing team to continue development of Joint Multi-Role (JMR) high-speed rotorcraft designs.

“These teams will build technology demonstration (TD) aircraft with flight tests starting in 2017,” the Army said in a statement released to USNI News on Friday.

The two prototype aircraft will be built and flown as part of the Joint Multi Role Technology Demonstrator Air Vehicle effort—which will inform the Army’s Future Vertical Lift (FVL) program to replace the long-serving Sikorsky UH-60 Black Hawk and Boeing AH-64E Apache.

The FVL program will also inform the US Navy’s MH-XX program to replace the MH-60 Seahawk.

“The intent of the JMR TD effort is to maximize the knowledge gain and risk reduction toward an anticipated Future Vertical Lift acquisition program,” said Dan Bailey, the Army’s JMR/FVL program director.
“The baseline strategy based on the current funding allocation requires descope from the four initial designs to two for build and flight test.”

Bell-V2280. Bell Image

Bell-V2280. Bell Image

Two other teams led by Karem Aircraft and AVX Aircraft were not selected for continued development, but the service is still interested in their technologies.
“The Army will seek to continue technology development efforts with those teams based on resources and opportunities,” the service said.

The Sikorsky-Boeing entry, called the SB-1 Defiant, is a compound helicopter design with co-axial rotors and a pusher-propeller. The aircraft is based on Sikorsky’s revolutionary X-2 design that was designed to overcome the 200-knot speed limit of most helicopters as a result of a phenomenon called the dissymmetry of lift.

The Bell Helicopter design, which is called the V-280 Valor, is an advanced tilt-rotor design that is based upon technology similar to the Bell-Boeing V-22 Osprey. The new tilt-rotor is smaller, faster and much more maneuverable than the Osprey and has a top speed of over 300 knots.

The rejected AVX design was a compound helicopter design similar to the Defiant. Meanwhile, the rejected Karem proposal was a variable-speed tilt-rotor similar to the Bell entry.

  • Willoughbilly

    Can anyone tell me why each branch of the service needs their own version of every vehicle. Why not save billions per year and standardize? What is wrong with the Osprey that the army needs their own version from scratch? Waste upon Waste.

    • John Diaz

      The all mighty dollar.

    • Daniel Shenise

      Because the Osprey is a bit of a dog. Due to the need to get it folded up for shipboard storage, the rotors are shorter than they should be. Because of this, the engines run hot in the hover. So they’ve had to severely limit time hovering. The exhaust is a problem too, damaging the decks of ships it lands on, unless the decks are treated. It performs poorly in a hover and has center of gravity issues. Supposedly Bell would fix these issues, but I hope the Sikorsky Defiant wins.

      And we do generally buy common medium lift helos, which is why the Sikorsky UH-60 family is used by the Army and the SH-60 by the Navy. This new helo would replace those as they were introduced in the late 1970’s.

      • Willoughbilly

        Sounds like a manufacturing defect and warranty issue. Only the Fed Govt signs contracts for equipment and then also bears the burdens of cost overruns and faulty designs. Why arent Gov contracts covered by the same consumer protections that my car and blender are?

        • arlngkent

          Because when you buy your “blender” you pay a price that includes potential warranty issues. The gov’t elects to pay rock bottom prices and self insure. Can’t have it both ways.
          That said, most of what Daniel says is parroted nonsense passed by dolts 10 years ago.that is no longer true, if it ever was.

          • Willoughbilly

            rock bottom $100,000 dollar toilet seats. Military contractors get no bid billion dollar contracts.

          • arlngkent

            You know nothing.

          • Willoughbilly

            I have seen contractors do the same job the military could have done for 5 times the cost because crooked politicians gave BAE the keys to the treasurery. The US Army has cooks that dont cook, trainers that dont train anyone, and MP`s that don`t guard the gates…all so contractors can do the same job poorly for ten times the cost.

      • arlngkent

        You obviously no ZERO about the Osprey and very little about FVL either.

        • Daniel Shenise

          All of the issue I mentioned are well document in the press, in GAO reports, in DoD reports, and in CRS reports. I left out the subpar readiness rates too. Also documented everywhere. Sorry to hurt your fanboy opinion, but I live in the real world where facts matter. You might want to do your homework and stop coping manufacturer press docs.

          • GAR9

            Well, the issue of rotor diameter is correct. The cooling issue came up in development, but was resolved in service. Regarding the exhaust heat quite some time ago it was determined that if the engines had to be running for extended periods on deck, the problem went away if you slightly changed the angle of the nacelles slightly every so often. A lot has changed sine the EMD days and it entered service. The Osprey’s biggest problems stemmed from the decision by DoD that instead of making it a single purpose Marine assault craft that other services might adopt if it also had value to them , it was required to be many diverse things to multiple services from the get-go, some of which just couldn’t be achieved.

    • arlngkent

      This program as an S&T effort to replace ALL the medium lift rotorcraft in all the services to eventually include: H-60 variants, Apaches, Cobras, Hueys and even the V-22. When the medium lift upgrades are complete the objective to to scale or at least reuse the new technology to replace the heavy lift and scout helos as well.

      • GAR9

        JMR is a demonstrator program to develop technologies for a later future vehicle under the Future Vertical Lift (FVL) umbrella. That will be a family of vehicles ranging from light scouts up to heavy lift and more than one technology may come forth. for example, Sikorsky itself has said its X2 technology does not scale up well to the heavy lift category.

        The JMR is sized for the medium vehicle requirement which is hoped to be the first of those deployed. It’s aimed at the UH-60/AH-64 replacement requirement although there have been some artists drawings of naval versions.

  • Jack Lawrence

    Understand the 280.
    But why not just tool up the 60?

    • Secundius

      @ Jack Lawrence.

      In 21st century vernacular, “I Can’t Pimp Your Ride.” You can’t simply “Cinderella” the H-60 Blackhawk, Into A 280 Role.” The stresses placed on the airframe is just to great.

      • Jack Lawrence

        Should have been clearer. Talking about the MH 60. Hopefully, the marines and army will look a quad 280 variant.

        • Secundius

          @ Jack Lawrence.

          Your right, it should have been made clearer. I have two thought’s about the Discussion Forum. 1. They think were Stupider than they are. Or, 2. They want US, TOO fill in their GAP’S.

  • Secundius

    @ USNI News.

    Reddit’d again, I see. Well that didn’t take long.

  • Jffourquet

    Better keep this program under control and within budget! I am sick and tired of out control DOD programs that cost too much and get canceled!

  • Secundius

    Don’t expect the Sikorsky S-97 Raider, to be flying in US. Army livery anytime soon. First schedule test flight not before 2017. Second test model rolled of the assembly line on October 2, 2014. With the third soon to follow. Second and third models to be powered by single 2,600-shp General Electric YT706 turbine.

    • GAR9

      1st flight of the S-97 is schedule before the end of the year. The bigger issues, though, is that there is no Army program ongoing for the role the S-97 might fill, Advanced Aerial Scout, which the Raider is sized for, being dormant at best and probably canceled.

      S-97, though, serves another valuable purpose: generating data and building confidence in the technology both for Sikorsky and with potential customers. Artist’s concepts notwithstanding, we actually don’t have much actual flight data on the Advancing Blade Concept. The earlier XH-59 was not very successful. The X2 demonstrator only flew for a total of 22 hours in 23 flights and total flight time in high speed cruise was probably less than 1 hour. Eurocopter’s X3 was able to take the speed record away quickly, and they allowed multiple pilots worldwide to fly their craft.

      What S-97 will do is reduce the risk factor regarding X2 technology and validate its viability, very important for the JMR/FVL program to come

      • Secundius

        @ GAR9.

        According to the most recent copy of AW&ST. First flight isn’t scheduled until 2017.

  • Secundius

    @ Jffourguet.

    I hate to say it, but it look like the Sikorsky S-97 Raider. Is nothing more that a High-Speed “Shoot-And-Scoot” design. Armed with a single 7.62x51mm NATO, Lightweight Aerial Machine Gun and 500-rounds of ammunition. It’s going to be a very limited role “Go-Fast” Scout Helicopter.

  • Rob C.

    I think that Joint venture with Boeing will properly do better than the V-280. Least on paper, I know that having similar aircraft like the it and V-22 in service it would be easier on the logistic side of the house. Sikorsky concept with the pusher helo seems to be solid with all the testing they’ve done, frankly possibly easier concept deal with since we already have people using similar helicopters verse new concept that V-22 is.