The U.S. Marine Corps is telling other military services that its primary requirement for future rotorcraft is speed because it needs a gunship fast enough to escort its MV-22s.
The assistant deputy commandant for aviation, Brig. Gen. Karsten “Hazel” Heckl, told R&WI that he emphasized that point Dec. 8, 2015, when two Bell Boeing MV-22s from HMX-1, the Marines’ presidential support squadron, flew him and other experts from Quantico, Virginia, to the U.S. Army’s Aviation Center of Excellence at Fort Rucker, Alabama, for a meeting on the joint Future Vertical Lift initiative.
“We flew a couple of airplanes down and spent about an hour and a half, two hours out there on the flight line there [at Cairns Army Air Field] and let the Army guys crawl all over the aircraft and ask questions,” said Heckl. The general said he told a working lunch at the meeting that, as he had made clear in other Future Vertical Lift meetings, the Marines’ top requirement for future utility and gunship rotorcraft is that they be able to escort the V-22, which cruises at 250 kt.
He said the Marines’ Bell Helicopter AH-1Z Cobra gunships and armed UH-1Y Venom utility helicopters lack the speed and range to keep up with the V-22.
In a separate interview, the commanding general of the Army’s Aviation Center of Excellence said that while speed in the Joint Multi-Role and other Future Vertical Lift aircraft is important, “It’s not just speed in level flight.”
Maj. Gen. Michael Lundy explained: “It’s the speed to transition from that level flight and into the objective and then out of there. That’s survivability.”
For a report on the meeting, check out Rotorcraft Report in the February issue of R&WI.