The Army has a plan to develop next-generation combat rotorcraft called Future Vertical Lift (FVL). Managed in partnership with the Navy, the first new airframes it will develop are intended to replace the tank-killing Apache attack helicopter and the workhorse Black Hawk utility helicopter. But that won’t happen until after 2030, and meanwhile threats to the legacy fleet will keep growing. There’s no need to wait so long. A precursor to FVL called the Joint Multi-Role Technology Demonstrator is already going through all the steps required to mature next-generation technologies and reduce risk in development. The Army should just pick a winner at the end of the decade and move into advanced development, rather than going through another multi-year round of technology maturation. If the process is sped up, new rotorcraft could start reaching the force within ten years, rather than forcing Army aviators to wait until after 2030 for state-of-the-art warfighting technology. I have written a commentary for Forbes here.
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