Joint multirole helo program in for wild ride

Joint multirole helo program in for wild ride

RIDLEY PARK, PA. — While still alive, the Pentagon’s effort to field a new generation of light, medium and heavy choppers under the Joint Multirole Helicopter effort is in for a “roller coaster” ride as budget planners choose which programs to kill and which ones to fund in the coming years, according to the Army’s top aircraft buyer.

“Everybody’s committed to it, but the dollars needed, that’s gonna be a roller coaster, to be quite honest with you,” said Maj. Gen. Tim Crosby, the Army’s top helo buyer, on Wednesday when asked by sister site Defense Tech about the status of JMR.

Crosby went on to say that Maj. Gen. Anthony Crutchfield, chief of the Army’s aviation branch, has “painted a vision to go for it” and that “there was just a letter sent in by all of the industry partners on the Joint Vertical Lift task force — all committed to it — so that’s a big step in supporting it, as well. I think everyone sees the need for it and [shares] that passion. The struggle is going to be to keep it funded, let’s just be honest.”


The Joint Multirole Helicopter plans call for development of brand new light, medium, heavy and “ultra”- sized choppers that will be “breakthrough technology” for the U.S. helo industry which has largely been refining 50-to-30-year old designs instead of fielding new birds.

Regardless of what happens to the effort to develop brand new choppers, the Army is going to have to look at replacing the F-model Chinooks with what Crosby thinks will probably be an H-model around 2025. While the service’s aviation modernization accounts fared “pretty well” in upcoming budget plans, the Army will still have to scale back its acquisition ambitions due to shrinking budgets.

The descision we’ll have to make is, do we do an H-model [Chinook] or do we try and find a new airplane? I think the reality will be what we can afford and looking at that to determine with our industry partners what the next step is. My prediction is, and this is simply my opinion, is that the financial status that we’re going to have in our country and our Defense Department is going to force us … to take an appetite suppressor and what that means is that we’re going to have to take some risk in some areas.

In the short term, the service will move forward with plans to buy 155 more CH-47Fs under five year contract that’s set to be awarded in January of 2013, and it will hustle to secure similar multiyear contracts for new Black Hawks and Apache choppers, according to Crosby. The trick here will be ensuring that the multi-years garner enough savings so as to convince budgeteers that they warrant locking away billions of dollars for five year blocks when there will be other important programs in need of scant Pentagon dollars, said the general. Though he did admit that he may have to “accept what they tell me that the budget realities are.”

The Army is also going to figure out how to recapitalize its aging fleet of OH-58 Kiowa Warrior armed scout helos starting sometime in the middle of the decade.

Jean Chamberlin, vice president of Boeing’s mobility division, told reporters here that the company plans to submit a bid for the 155-chopper contract in November. That proposal is expected to offer savings of 10-percent over what it would cost to buy the 155 Chinooks with single-year contracts spread out over five years, according to Chamberlin. Crosby, who was standing next to Chamberlin, chimed in to say with a smile that he’d prefer the deal to gave him 15-percent savings.

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Spending for R&D on advanced compound helicopter technology would be wise, but procuring them in significant quantity in this political cycle is not likely.

They need to adoid over-reaching now, avoid a repeat of FCS, Crusader, Comanche, etc.

Where is Gavin’s CH-54(x) based on the new CH-53K, and the various modules that could plug into that, an airborne LCS? Piggybacking development of the CH-53K, and with knowledge of the existing design of the CH-54B Tarhe, a new CH-54(x) should be easy and inexpensive to develop, and no more expensive than a CH-53K to procure.

They could save money on the new POTUS chopper by instead developing a POTUS transport module that would integrate with a CH-54(x).

I have to say one thing: Don’t screw this up!!! We absolutely need a long term helo replacement plan.

Our current set of helos will be fine through the 2020s, but if we want to have something available when these helo designs are completely obsolete we better at least start thinking now.

I think the helo industry is saying loud and clear that it too needs to shift to a retainer basis. They cant just keep on producing equipment with constantly falling productivity. Instead they need to be paid for simply existing.

Just as numerous other marine, army and USAF projects have found the best way to do this is not upgrades but risky projects that don’t deliver. Industry gets it’s money without the burden of actually producing anything useful.

Whatever they do, the Army certainly would not want to make this an open competition where anyone could design a new helicopter with their own funds and the Army could hold a competition to buy the best helicopter for the best price. What would these defense contractors do without that free money they get from their “profit for development” contracts? Let’s never go back to doing business that way. After all, the biggest liar should get the contract, and the biggest cheater should make the most money. After all, that’s what passes for capitalism in the 21st century.

How will the Army balance “concerns for the industrial base” with the desire for competition? As we saw in that 10 year circus for the tanker, opening this up to foreign firms will likely result in another marathon game of political monkey football. There are enough U.S. based firms (Bell, Boeing, Sikorsky) to check the “competition” block and preserve the capabilities so that another generation of American workers is provided manufacturing experience on these things.

DOD really did itself and industry a disservice by focusing on upgrades over the last couple of decades.

Either way, this is going to be expensive.

If we dont put better capes in our helos, what is the point of buying new ones?

Unless its like a single requirement: ” lift +2,000 lbs more” or something?

Tarhes are gateguards now, and should stay there.

Here is the plan behind the curtain:

UAS and KW merge into UAS only.

AH64 and UH60 merge into different versions of the multirole helicopter (thus the name)

Chinook keeps on truckin. I suppose another version isnt out of the question.

Hope this helps.

Can someone explain to me why a version of the Osprey could not satisfy the JMRH requirement? It has a higher performance, range, payload then either the blackhawk or apache and is already in production. low development costs, quick program.

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