Boeing officials have confirmed that there will be at least one further version of the AH-64 attack helicopter and probably two more versions of its CH-47 heavy lift helicopter before any aircraft developed through the U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) Future Vertical Lift (FVL) initiative are fielded.
Boeing’s outgoing director of attack helicopters, Mike Burke, stated that the Apache AH-64E was a sustainment program but that the aircraft is likely to still be flying for many years beyond the initial introduction of the new Future Vertical Lift (medium) fleet. It has a joint venture with Sikorsky to present the SB>1 Defiant as the Joint Multi-Role (JMR) technology demonstrator as the first step on the path to realizing the FVL (medium) platform, which is intended to replace all of the U.S. Army’s AH-64 Apaches and UH-60 Black Hawks.
Mike Burke leaves Boeing today. During his 33-year U.S. Army career he served at nearly every echelon and finished as a Brigadier General. During the first Gulf War he was an Aviation Brigade Commander and deployed his Apaches in battle. He has been a main driving force behind Boeing’s attack helicopter business development. Happy retirement Mike! Photo by Andrew Drwiega
Dave Palm, director of Vertical Business Development, added that the company expects that the Chinook would benefit from “at least two more turns of technology” after the CH-47F. Boeing’s senior management has already said that the Chinook will come close to having a 100-year service life from its initial introduction in 1962.
The U.S. Army’s approved Multi Year II buy of CH-47Fs is planned to flow through to 2019, while the first of eight new build Special Forces MH-47G will be delivered this September. All 61 of the 160th Special Operations Aviation Regiment (SOAR) aircraft will potentially be upgraded to the same standard.
With FVL (heavy) not expected until around 2060, Palm said that the next version of the CH-47 could be expected after 2019, ensuring that there was a continuous production line and skills retention. He said that new rotor blades are currently being tested that should increase lift by over 1,800 lbs. Palm continued: “The F model is all about incorporating the Digital Advanced Flight Control System (DAFCS) whereas the next improvement would further improve the payload and range.”
Interestingly, Jeff Shelton, Boeing’s SB>1 Defiant business development manager, stated that the JMR TD team agreement with Sikorsky “allows us to use technology developed on JMR or FVL to backward place onto our current fleets – Apache or Black Hawk.”
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