By By Andrew Drwiega, International Bureau Chief | September 3, 2014
|At this year’s Quad-A convention, held in Nashville, Tenn. in May, Bell Helicopter displayed a full scale mock-up of its V-280 Valor, a third-generation tiltrotor aircraft. Photo by Andrew Drwiega|
The most unsurprising announcement of the year so far is the U.S. Army Aviation Technology Directorate’s (AATD) decision revealed on August 12 that the Boeing/Sikorsky partnership and Bell Helicopter have both been selected to move forward to build and fly their high speed versions of the Joint Multi Role Technology Demonstrator (JMR TD) rotorcraft in 2017.
After the Army missed the original deadline in July and stating that the companies would be briefed during August and the announcement would be made public at the end of the month or possibly early September, the news then promptly spilled out less than two weeks into August. This leaves the other bidders in the JMR TD process, AVX Aircraft and Karem Aircraft, exactly where they probably expected to be, with no immediate funding to carry their proposals forward.
While the competition for the Future Vertical Lift (FVL) program will undoubtedly welcome all-comers to submit responses to the Army’s eventual Request for Proposal (RFP) – which may yet also involve Airbus Helicopter and AgustaWestland who did not compete for the JMR TD – the two outsiders of AVX and Karem now either have to go it alone or perhaps look to join the winning teams that share their vision of the technology that should be used for the FVL.
In the red corner is Boeing/Sikorsky’s SB>1 Defiant which is a coaxial design, as was that proposed by AVX Aircraft. In the blue corner is Bell Helicopter’s V-280 Valor, a third generation tiltrotor, a technology also favored by Karem Aircraft. Karem is still working with the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) over its vertical takeoff and landing (VTOL) X-Plane project; additionally it has an ‘iron in the fire’ regarding an optimum speed technology rotorcraft as a joint heavy lift aircraft, which may one day become FVL (Heavy) – one of the four categories of FVL identified as necessary by the U.S. Army (Light, Medium, Heavy and Ultra).
Further announcements on how the Army would like to continue the involvement of all four competitors is expected to be made public by or during September.
Related: Military News