The U.S. Army has not developed an all-new combat rotorcraft since the Reagan years, but now it is developing two in a program called Future Vertical Lift (FVL). FVL is expected to generate demand for nearly 100 aircraft per year, making it by far the biggest source of demand for the domestic rotorcraft industry. That means leading companies must secure a berth on either the new recon aircraft or the new assault aircraft in order to remain in the sector’s first tier. Major General Walter Rugen, the much-decorated director of the FVL program, is devoting considerable effort to understanding the dynamics of the industry–not just the airframe integrators, but the second- and third-tier suppliers, and the other industries contributing inputs to the final combat configuration. Rugen understands all too well the likely fallout if FVL fails to make the right choices. I have written a commentary for Forbes here.
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