Move over GCV; Army Aviation Wants New Toys Too

Move over GCV; Army Aviation Wants New Toys Too

It looks like the Army’s high-priority Ground Combat Vehicle program may soon have more competition for securing shrinking defense dollars. U.S. Army Aviation officials made another pitch for bigger, faster, more advanced helicopters for the future at AUSA’s Aviation Symposium in Washington, D.C.

It’s been nearly a decade since the Army killed cancelled the Comanche helicopter, a high-tech, reconnaissance aircraft that wasted two decades and $7 billion. Since then the Army has reprogrammed about $36 billion into upgrades of existing Black Hawk, Chinook and Apache airframes.

“We are just now getting to the end of what we gained for those decisions with Comanche,” said Lt. Gen. James Barklay, Army G8. “Now we have got to start focusing on what the aviation portfolio has in the future. As we look at the next 10 years, we’ve got to determine how we are going to balance all these programs and get at the needs and requirements” of Army aviation


Aviation officials agree that the Army must develop “future vertical lift” options that can fly faster, father and carry more payload than anything in the current inventory, said Maj. Gen. Kevin Mangum, commanding general of the Army Aviation Center of Excellence.  Aviation officials maintain that future aircraft must be able to carry a nine-man squad. They must be able to haul the Army and Marine Corps M777, a 9,000 pound 155mm howitzer. They will also need greater range — the ability to self deploy from the United States to the Philippines to support new missions in the Pacific region.

In the near term, Army aviation officials continue to hold onto the need for an armed reconnaissance helicopter.

“Our most urgent capability gap right now is manned, armed reconnaissance,” Mangum said.  “We do have a requirement and we are going to fill that requirement and we are going to figure how we are going to do so soon.”

This will surely be a difficult challenge for the Army, since it continues to pursue other top procurement priorities such as the GCV, the Network and the Joint Light Tactical Vehicle programs.

Army aviation officials have no illusions that future modernization goals will be an uphill struggle with the fiscal uncertainties the service faces with the pending decision on sequestration cuts across the Pentagon.

The service has been successful in finding cost savings through multi-year contracts, said Lt. Gen. William Phillips, military deputy/director of the Army Acquisition Corps.

The first multi-year contract for CH-47F Chinooks saved $449 million between fiscal 2008 and fiscal 2012, Phillips said. The service could avoid $810 million with a pending fiscal 2013–2017 contract, a deal the has been delayed because of the Continuing Resolution on last year’s defense budget, Phillips maintains.

In addition, the Army saved $1.8 billion with the award of a fiscal 2012–2016 contract for UH-60M Black Hawks, Phillips said.

“When you can come to the table and have solutions like that that provide the Army with an incredible capability and you can go to the leaders in Congress and OSD and show them the dollars you are saving by going to a multi-year solution, that’s a win-win for everyone.”

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Kiowas are long in the tooth, and the money is quickly drying up. This won’t be easy.….

There’s no doubt the Kiowa’s days are numbered, but its mission remains. But the Army has a number of modernization requirements. How does the Army reconcile/prioritize competing requirements? I assume statements made at conferences aren’t policy.

Self deploy from the States to the Philippines? Sounds like they are looking for a tit-rotor. Otherwise I couldn’t imagine the time it’d take flying at typical helo cruising speed. Sounds like Army Aviation is setting itself up for failure, again.

Good Luck with that ambition. Nearly everytime US Miliary tried to impliment a completely new design, it ends in fiancial disaster. I hate being cynic, but this happen so many times its not even funny. Army Aviation have some how convince Congress after trying to get defense industry to actually not over charge them (Again) in creation of new design. Kiowas will likely have to be upgraded in end. I hope this will not be the case if Army Aviation gets its project going.

We can’t upgrade Kiowas forever. You think using the M16 or twenty-year old trucks is bad.….

If the airframe provides the basic performance requirements.…. . ????? Metal DOES fatigue and any rebuild would have to be a “bottom up” zero time overhaul. Seriously, with todays funding issues, they might just want to figure out what is NOT already part of the airframe and what it would take to do that “zero time” overhaul, or even build new airframes, with some new toys, from the old prints! Its not the best solution, particularly in terms of sustaining the organizations responsible for building NEW helos, but.… look at what the USMC did with some old Vietnam-vintage airframes to make the AH-1Z! If anyone knows how to squeeze the most operationally effective bang out of the budgetary pennies, its the USMC, and particularly the USMC aviation community! (and Im ex-USAF!)

The USCG rebuilds their –65s frame up, replacing metal where necessary. Bell is rebuilding Kiowa cabins and replacing wiring. The Army depots do the rest of the rework.

Not happening. Aviation got its placeholder with the OH58F. The conventional competitors aren’t good enough to justify the cost to replace it. The advanced designs aren’t planned for the fleet until 2030. Everyone will soldier on with what they got (with equipment mods) for the next 20 years.

How many RAH-66’s did they build and mothball?

Looks like only 2 if wiki is correct… nevermind.

US — Philippines self deploy? First I’ve ever heard of that requirement!

WHO said that?

Did you read the article?

USMC ended up with new build AH-1Z. Remember helicopters dont pressurise and dont have wings that flex so are (hardly) affected by fatigue

While it says that in the article, it has to be an oversimplified statement. Nothing in the Army “self deploys,” it has to be lifted by the Air Force or cargo ships and even then there’s a lot of midair refueling involved. I don’t see a helicopter moving across the Pacific nonstop even with refueling. It would be in the air too long.

How much is the uint cost of a OH58F? A Mangusta A-129 International can do everything we want a scout/recon helo to do and more. Also all of its recon/sensor systems and weapons are American. It comes in at 17 million each based on a very small proposed production run of 60 aircraft. Given the numbers the US Army is looking at that price could be considerablely less. Then again agusta could partner with Lockheed-Martin and we could get 22 aircraft, 18 years from now for the bargin price of $139 million a piece.

tmb — That’s the practical reality. I was also thinking how the Army would justify something with such a long range (LA to Manila is over 7K mi). I’m SURE the Air Force would have something to say because that’s definitely beyond intratheatre lift capabilities.

Frankly it sounds like wishful thinking by an unamed official.

Why can’t the US Military go off the shelf commercial made helicopters to replace the Kiowa

Given the army’s (and other services) recent failures w/r/t new and complex weapons systems, there ins’t much reason for faith the army won’t get carried away with trying to put uninvented technologies and conflicting requirements into a new scout chopper requirements. After all, it’ll have to be every possible thing to every body — and make coffee, too!

Hmmm.… Have you EVER ridden in a two bladed UH– or AH-1? 247 hz gets pounded into your head… er.… butt as those blades pass overhead. EVERYTHING shakes. Thats all you really need for fatigue to become at least a concern. THEN there is the drive train and the blades….… Spent a couple of years working flight test ops on the “Whiskey” and yes, as I understand it, most of the Zulus are new build.

Our friends “down under” are particularly competent in a lot of aircraft fatigue analyses, so Id refer you to one of their pubs at http://​www​.dtic​.mil/​d​t​i​c​/​t​r​/​f​u​l​l​t​e​x​t​/​u​2​/​a​2​6​7​1​1​5.p… . 8-) There are PLENTY of fatigue issues with helos!

We tried that a few years ago. For some reason they still went over budget and had problems.

Because the Marine Corps saying is, “Adapt and Overcome”. Why fix something that is NOT broken Semper Fi.

If there’s one thing I’ve learned here, nothing ever is. An it’s usually quite expensive. Even if it is just nothing.

It would be the Pacific version of the old “Apache deploys to Germany via the Canada-Greenland-Iceland route”.

No one was ever desperate enough to try it.

They also have the option of the OH-58F Block II with High/Hot capability http://​www​.scoutsout​.com/​n​e​x​t​-​g​e​n​e​r​a​t​i​o​n​/​b​l​o​c​k​II/ A new manufacturer requires new training/fligh pubs… simulators… etc. Atleast in austere times if they stuck with Bell without getting gouged the support network is proven. Then once funding is not extremely tight like it is now they could look outside the box.

The military is always wanting new toys for a new mission that changes into a new mission requiring new toys. Soon the military finds out the new toys have flaws that requiring spending lots of new money to fix. And the procurement officers who set the old specs get new jobs with the same old contractors, woh made gazillions making the old new toys. Anyone else see anything wrong with this picture?

Can’t go off the shelf when the military wants/requires weight increases due to sensor packages and avionics upgrades… the ARH was an off the shelf 407, but due to increase in customer demands the weight of the bird required a larger transmission and powerplant… along with a host of other upgrades. Thus ending up with an entirely new bird after airframe reinforcements and such.

Would love it if the commanches were cheaper. Perhaps with more of the technologies now a little more mature, the commanche wouldn’t be such a headache. They were already in flight testing as it was. We know some of the stealth tech was reliable enough to use in the UBL raid so I hope they look into it. As far as saving money goes, consolidating the Air Force back into the Army would save hundreds of millions of dollars and the Air Force folks may do a bit of a better job requirements although they have black eye from JSF and now the F-22.

I really hope the commanche gets another look. I completely understood why it was cancelled during the peak of Iraq where helos were being used up. But for a few reasons, it may not have been a good idea. The low visual and audio signatures made it the most lethal or survivable for urban operations considering the apaches and kiowas that were downed. It was already in flight testing but I am unsure how far along. It had already had billions of dollars invested only to be shut down. Yes, it was a nightmare but in its defense, on a helo, that level of stealth was never attempted before. It was revolutionary so to speak. It was like the F-22 but the F-22 at least had the two fixed wing jet engine platforms to go before it to assist in its development and it was still a nightmare. In the future, a bird like the RAH-66 would be the best bird to accompany the stealthy blackhawks that take teir 1 units on sensitive missions. It has a lot of firepower and an ability to recon the area with different sensors. They were even being developed to have an anti-air capability if I remember correctly. Army aviation should have to compete against both the Air Force and big Army. The Air Force should be consolidated back into the Army so we can save all the money spent on flag ranks, different uniforms, color guards and bands, similar training schools, and so on.

Reminds me of the Osprey. I believe it has killed more Marines than oure enemies. Only Congress could have kept that thing flying, for their districtsw. What a waste.

X-97 Raider looks like a good solution. Much cheaper than the MV-22. Can do armed scout, but not 9-man squads. Just need to scale it out like they did the UH-1D.
http://​en​.wikipedia​.org/​w​i​k​i​/​S​i​k​o​r​s​k​y​_​S​-​9​7​_​R​a​i​der

If you are at all stating air force acquisition is well above the armys you are much deluded since there are many more black eyes to state here.

The OH-58D is being upgraded to OH-58F, which is mostly an avionics upgrade.

They are also planning to buy some newly manufactured OH-58F to replace units that have been lost or destroyed beyond economical repair. instead of buying any newly constructed OH-58F, I think they would be better off buying some new AH-6S instead. AH-6S is lighter, smaller, more nimble, cheaper to buy, cheaper to operate, and can get down into places where a larger helicopter cannot.

Lower powered earlier models of the OH-58 also need to be upgraded. The Army is currently planning to upgrade those to the OH-58F configuration, to include upgrading the engine and transmission to the same as those used in the OH-58D. Since the OH-58D is considered underpowered, when upgrading the earlier airframes it may make more sense to leapfrog to the proposed Block II which uses the powerpack developed for the ARH-70 which included the transmission from the Bell 407 and the 1021 shp Honeywell HTS900 turboshaft engine. Block II also uses the tail and tailrotor from the Bell 427.

AVX Aviation has proposed a modification to the OH-58F that would replace the main rotor and drive with counter rotating mainrotors, while using the existing engine and transmission. It would replace the tailboom with a new tailboom that would include two ducted fans in pusher configuration, making it a compound helicopter.

Sikorsky started building two S-97 in late 2012, and expects to have them in testing in 2014, flying in 2015.

Its also time to rewrite the rules and allow the Army to fly fixed wing aircraft with forward firing weapons systems. Where they can be operated, these are much cheaper to operate than helos. Army should also acquire some of Boeing’s OV-10x Bronco. And Army should get back the small fleet of C-27B (aka “C-27J”) from the Air Force and convert those to a KAC-27x configuration, with capability for ground attack and aerial refueling in addition to hauling cargo. Maybe put a lightweight Patria NEMO 120mm mortar turret on the roof, which in combination with precision guided mortar munitions could provide a rapid reponse standoff weapon in support of ground troops.

Two is correct.

Est, proiduction cost is 11.5M

Watch all the little children fight for there pet projects before sequestration hits this March. Overall there long range goal the USMC has already done with the V-22. The OH-58 isn’t going any where soon so why not upgrade it give it more powerful engine and new electronics.

Overall in fighting from Generals who want there pet project a first priority will be the end of major army programs since they ignore the nation is bankrupt.

While I don’t totally disagree, you can’t really take an in production aircraft price and a helicopter that doesnt exist expected price and automatically call it cheaper. The tiltrotor of the 70’s used as a testbed was affordable too… but once it got scaled up… lets just compare apples to apples next time.

Once the slippery slope starts rolling, the Army will have its own fixed wing attack aircraft and C-130’s.

The air force won’t mind. More money for jets. Yay!

And if a C-17 crashes, then the C-17 kills more of our guys than the enemy. Why? C-17 doesn’t have weapons.

So, aside from being against current rules, what is wrong with shifiting some roles and letting the Army have some fixed wing ground attack aircraft, COIN aircraft, intratheater cargo, maybe some capability to aerial refuel helos in theater, etc.?

I’ve got nothing against it. If anything, Key West was meant to protect nascent air force from the Dominant-At-The-Time army.

Even the Soviets followed our air force model. They have the VVS and a subunit (Front Aviation) is dedicated to what we might think of as “close air support” and countering enemy CAS. Semantically, it seems they recognize the different niches of air operations and specialize their units accordingly.

blight — “The air force won’t mind.” You jest right? Did you forget the development of the C27J?

“develop “future vertical lift” options that can fly faster, father and carry more payload than anything in the current inventory”

They want a machine that can father? That would be very interesting to see..

Apparently a vehicle that can turn into a robot is old hat, so now it has to be able to reproduce itself. What will the Army think of next? ;)

The faster designs times same endurance equals greater range.

You didn’t read what they said. They said “father” as in have a child, not “farther”.

Congress, in their FY2013 NDFA, had required the Air Force to retain an additional 32 aircraft above the Air Force’s requested numbers, any combination of C-27J and/or C-130 aircraft at the Air Force’s option. At a press conference held on January 11, 2013, Air Force Secretary Michael Donley said the Air Force will stand by the original plan to divest its C-27J aircraft, and are looking at how the additional 32 C-130 will be distributed. So rather than keep the new fleet of C-27J, the Air Force will retain 32 old C-130 that they had been looking to dump.

not NDFA… rather the Fiscal Year 2013 National Defense Authorization Act

JRT — classic

Papi. I’m laughing re LM comment. So true. Agree, many systems we could buy from Europeans and save money

I still miss the Huey. Like the old C47, they haven’t found a good replacement for it. I flew Hueys for 24 Years(Vietnam included) and, even though I don’t fly anymore, I still love the old girl!

Tell General “whatshisface” to learn how to spell “farther” first… then maybe he can have some more money to go down to the toy store!

Upgrade current design and expand the best attributes of the Black Hawk, the venerable Huey and the Kiowa, with stronger airframe, larger capacity, modular variant capabilities,flight time to maintenance hours, mileage on a single fuel load, better speed and stealth capabilities and get ALL the major US aircraft contractors to COMBINE efforts and build specific components to spread the cost more evenly to ALL players to help keep costs down.
The only problem with this concept is that it makes WAY too much sense for the Pentagon & Congress to ever implement.

Or stupid enough to try it.

There is far too much “pie in the sky”. The dreamers should look at practicality. The American public will not endure tax increases to fund their joy rides. The main goals are to protect troops and inflict devastation on the enemy.

Joy rides ‘where the hell do you live” this aint Disney world civilian .The current aviation leaders are the sons of Vietnam ‚aviation veteran soldiers who’s real world experience derived from thousands of hours in combat will just now start to come to fruition. The new guys are better educated and techno savvy. The new stuff will blow your pee sized brain . Bigger ‚faster and more advanced ! now pay –up

Seems to me that upgraded Blackhawks or the UH-1Y Huey fulfills everything except the 9000 howitzer lift. Anyone know operational helicopters other than the CH-53 and CH-47 that can lift the M777 Howitzer?

From the requirements it looks like something between a Huey and a Super Stallion.
Anyone have access to the actual RFP?

Have you served in Army Aviation? If so, please give your reasoning: if not, Where do you get the expertice in saying what you did? I never have broadcast this, but I helped save lives with the Huey. (a new toy in my time) That’s the problem with this country today! I’m proud I served in Vietnam and a total of 25 years!

What is leadership saying about aviation at the AAAA convention this week?

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