11 décembre 2020 | International, Aérospatial, Terrestre

Army preps for competition limited to Bell and Sikorsky for long-range assault helicopter


WASHINGTON — The Army is taking its final steps before starting a competition to acquire a Future Long Range Assault Aircraft, and has done so by issuing an intent to solicit bids using means “other than full and open competition,” according to a Dec. 9 post on on the government contracts website Beta.Sam.Gov.

This step means that unless a surprise vendor can meet all of the Army's technical and production requirements for FLRAA in the next two weeks, the future aircraft will be supplied by either Bell or Lockheed Martin's Sikorsky.

Bell and a Sikorsky-Boeing team have been pitted against one another for years to build and fly technology demonstrators to inform requirements ahead of the FLRAA competition and both are part of a competitive demonstration and risk reduction phase. Bell's V-280 Valor tiltrotor had it's first flight nearly three years ago and Sikorsky and Boeing's SB-1 Defiant coaxial helicopter flew for the first time in March 2019.

The draft request for proposals is expected to be released by the end of the year with a final solicitations expected in fiscal 2021.

Modernizing its vertical lift fleet is the Army's third highest priority behind Long-Range Precision Fires and Next-Generation Combat Vehicle development. The Army intends to field both a FLRAA and Future Attack Reconnaissance Aircraft by roughly FY30.

Bell and Lockheed Martin are also competing against each other in the FARA competition. Bell's offering is the 360 Invictus and Lockheed's entry is the Raider X.

In the case of FLRAA, the winner must build eight production aircraft for the first unit equipped by FY30.

The plan is to award a contract to a winner in FY22. The winner will proceed to deliver a preliminary design review roughly eight months following the award.

According to the pre-solicitation, “the Army has determined through extensive market research, including a July 2020 sources sought, that only two sources exist in the market space that have the capability and capacity of developing, manufacturing, testing and delivering both prototype and initial production FLRAA in the time allocated to achieve the Army's goal of an FUE in FY 2030.”

The Army stated that Bell and Sikorsky are those two sources, but notes that “any other responsible, qualified sources, ... that can develop and produce the FLRAA weapon system to achieve First Unit Equipped (FUE) no later than 2030 are encouraged to full identify their interest and capabilities in accordance with the requirements,” within 15 days after publication of the pre-solicitation.

Such a vendor would need to deliver a preliminary design review in FY22, start building prototype aircraft in the third quarter of FY23 and eight production aircraft by 2030. Vendors must also prove they are able to build 24 aircraft per year at full-rate production.

Those aircraft must be able to fly at 2,000 feet pressure altitude in 85 degree heat with a full payload that consists of 12 troops at 290 lbs each and four crew at 281 lbs each.

When the draft RFP drops, it is likely to contain a schedule to deliver air vehicle prototypes and mission systems. The Army was debating between two schedule options to deliver prototypes by roughly mid-2026.

The FLRAA program has strong support from Congress. This year's annual defense policy bill authorized $5 million in increased investment in FLRAA advanced component development and prototyping on top of the Army's nearly $648 million request. The FY21 spending bill has yet to go through conference committee, but both the House and Senate proposed additional funding for FLRAA. The House Appropriations Committee proposed a $20 million increase while the Senate Appropriations Defense Subcommittee proposed a $79 million addition.

Lawmakers added $76 million in funding to FLRAA's top line in FY20 to drive down technical risk and speed up delivery through the competitive demonstration and risk reduction effort.

In FY20, Congress cut $34 million from the Army's other future vertical lift effort — the FARA program — which threatened the service's ability to provide some of its government-furnished equipment to competitors chosen to build and fly prototypes. The Army is supplying its new Improved Turbine Engine Program engine, a 20mm gun, an integrated munitions launcher and its modular open-systems architecture. The Army has since shored up that funding, according to service aviation leadership.


Sur le même sujet

  • Private equity : Weinberg Capital lance un fonds dans l'industrie de la défense

    8 février 2023 | International, Autre défense

    Private equity : Weinberg Capital lance un fonds dans l'industrie de la défense

    Dépassant les réticences européennes en matière d'ESG, l'homme d'affaires et président du conseil d'administration de Sanofi, Serge Weinberg, vient de lever un fonds d'investissement dédié aux industriels de la défense.

  • Dynetics seeks closer soft docking of X-61A Gremlins in next flight test

    8 septembre 2020 | International, Aérospatial

    Dynetics seeks closer soft docking of X-61A Gremlins in next flight test

    by Pat Host Dynetics believes it gained enough data from a July flight test of its X-61A Gremlins unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) to next time achieve a closer soft docking to the recovery aircraft than the 38 m distance it reached in July. The July flight test was the demonstration of a second X-61A air vehicle as well as the Gremlins airborne recovery system. The X-61A, which weighs 544 kg, flew for a total flight time of 2 hours 12 minutes and flew in formation with a Lockheed Martin C-130 Hercules cargo aircraft from as close as 38 m back and 38 m below the aircraft. Tim Keeter, Dynetics Gremlins programme manager, told Janes on 27 August that the company needed centimetre-level accuracy and precision to get the air vehicle's engagement arm into the 30 cm stabilised towed docking, or capture, device. This process is known as soft docking. Dynetics, Keeter said, advanced the maturity of the system, its confidence in the air vehicle's behaviour, and downloaded enough data where the company is confident it can close that last 38 m for a closer soft docking event in an upcoming flight test. The X-61A that flew in July was Gremlins Air Vehicle (GAV) Number 3, the first flight for this air vehicle. Keeter said Dynetics launched this air vehicle the same way it launched the first one: from a pylon on a C-130 operated by International Air Response (IAR), which offers C-130 services. Dynetics used the same C-130 for both launch and recovery. https://www.janes.com/defence-news/news-detail/dynetics-seeks-closer-soft-docking-of-x-61a-gremlins-in-next-flight-test

  • European Union tees up new military-cooperation proposals

    8 mai 2019 | International, Aérospatial, Naval, Terrestre, C4ISR, Sécurité, Autre défense

    European Union tees up new military-cooperation proposals

    By: Martin Banks The European Union will launch a call for a new batch of proposals as part of Europe's new Permanent Structured Cooperation (PESCO) initiative this week. At the same time, officials said that the 34 existing PESCO projects are still considered to be at a very initial “incubation phase,” meaning they have yet to come to fruition. The PESCO defense pact – a show of unity and a tangible step in EU integration – was set up in December 2017 between EU governments and involved two phases of joint initiatives, each consisting of 17 projects. The third and latest phase, to be launched this week, is for an unspecified number of new projects. The founding PESCO members, including France, Germany and Italy, have been asked to table proposals by the summer with a view to these being approved by the end of 2019. The new batch of projects is likely to be smaller than the previous two, the second of which was launched last November, and is expected to be more “mature” when it comes to the projects' setup, including support by member states, one official said. EU members are responsible for developing and implementing PESCO projects. An EU defence source said, “They are still at an initial stage, or incubation phase.” Twelve of the existing 34 schemes are expected to reach initial operational capability by 2022, with four of these due to be implemented later this year, according to the source. The 34 schemes include a harbor and maritime surveillance and protection (HARMSPRO) project, designed to deliver a new maritime capability with the ability to conduct surveillance and protection of specified maritime areas, from harbors up to littoral waters. Another is the Training Mission Competence Centre which aims to improve the availability and professionalism of personnel for EU training missions. The list also includes a European armoured infantry vehicle and cyber rapid response teams. Other projects involve developing new equipment, such as infantry fighting vehicles, amphibious assault vehicles, light armored vehicles, indirect fire support, strategic command-and-control systems for EU defense missions, minesweeping drones, upgrading maritime surveillance and developing a joint secure software defined radio. Long blocked by London, PESCO, is one of the most tangible steps in EU integration since Britons voted to leave the bloc, as militaries begin to plan, spend and deploy together. The eventual aim of PESCO is to develop and deploy forces together, backed by a multi-billion-euro fund for defense research and development. The idea aims to bring together European countries with a military capacity and political desire to collaborate on planning, carry out joint analyses of emerging crises and to react to them quickly. Speaking recently in the European parliament in Brussels, Finnish Prime Minister Juha Sipilä welcomed the establishment of PESCO as a “step in the right direction” but said PESCO members “should now concentrate on implementation and reaching results.” The EU source said, “Some might find it surprising that the 34 projects are still at the ideation phase but you have to remember that the PESCO project was launched only recently so the record is not bad. We are not talking about a ‘project factory' but a commitment on the part of participating members to work more closely in the area of security and defence.” EU defence expert Paul Taylor wrote, “It is worth noting that the PESCO effort is still at a relatively early stage of development.” Jamie Shea, a senior fellow at Friends of Europe, a leading Brussels think tank, commented, “It is welcome news that the number of PESCO projects is likely soon to grow still further beyond the current 34. But to sustain political and public interest in this initiative it is important that we see soon the first deliverables to show that the good intentions are being followed with real and new European military capabilities.” Shea added, “Moreover the key test for the success of PESCO will not just be to generate more multinational efforts but also to produce capabilities that plug the current shortfalls in the EU's most urgent requirements and move it towards its goal of strategic autonomy.” https://www.defensenews.com/global/europe/2019/05/06/european-union-tees-up-new-military-cooperation-proposals/

Toutes les nouvelles