U.S. Army Aviation is poised for a transformation even more profound than that which introduced the Black Hawk and Apache helicopters four decades ago. The focus of attention has rightly been on the products of the Future Vertical Lift (FVL) effort: the Future Long-Range Assault Aircraft (FLRAA) and the Future Attack Reconnaissance Aircraft (FARA). To support these new platforms, as well as enhance the performance of legacy helicopters, Army Aviation is developing advanced unmanned aerial systems (UASs, also known as drones) and long-range precision munitions to equip both FVL platforms and legacy aircraft. These small drones, called Air-Launched Effects (ALEs), will be an essential component of the revolution occurring in Army Aviation. Being low-cost, relatively long-range drones, they extend the speed, reach, vision, and lethality of the Army’s aerial fleets. I have written more about the future of ALEs here.
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