WASHINGTON — The Future Long-Range Assault Aircraft (FLRAA) has passed through the gauntlet of the Army Requirements Oversight Council (AROC), the one-star general in charge of the service’s Future Vertical Lift (FVL) modernization efforts told Defense News.
The aircraft program’s draft capabilities development document was approved by the panel last week, Brig. Gen. Wally Rugen said in a brief interview at an Army Futures Command event at Fort Myer in Arlington, Virginia, meant to showcase the command’s progress in executing the Army’s top six modernization priorities.
Future Vertical List is the third priority, with Long-Range Precision Fires and Next-Generation Combat Vehicle pulling rank.
The Army is embarking on an ambitious plan to procure two major helicopters back-to-back to replace UH-60 Black Hawks, AH-64 Apaches and to fill a gap left open when the service retired its OH-85 Kiowa Warriors in 2014.
The service published a request for information in April this year to gauge industry on the realm of the possible including the acceleration of FLRAA’s fielding schedule with a goal of delivering at least by fiscal year 2030.
Based on the AROC decision, industry feedback and the success of the science and technology program — the Joint Multi-Role Technology Demonstrator (JMR-TD) — Rugen said he foresees a good possibility of a “multiyear acceleration” of the program.
Rugen declined to offer more detail on how many years the schedule might shrink because the plan was still moving up the chain of command for final approval.
The FLRAA effort is a joint program and “other services have joined us in concurring with our approach. We are seeing a greater body of support, not just within the Army,” he added.
The service is planning to hold another industry day in Huntsville, Alabama, on July 31 to discuss requirements and capabilities. A request for project proposals is expected to drop around the same time.
According to the RFI, the Army wants to award contracts in the fourth quarter of FY21 for preliminary designs, with a review of those designs in the second quarter of FY23, a first flight in the third quarter of FY24, followed by a critical design review in the fourth quarter of FY24.
The plan, according to the solicitation, was to get the first unit equipped in the second quarter of FY30.
The RFI asked for industry responses, specifically, to provide a detailed schedule that accelerates the fielding of FLRAA.
“FY20 is going to be a time when we fully leverage JMR success and really go from a tech demonstrator, which is an S&T effort, into a weapon system. We really want to understand from industry how can you make these advanced rotorcraft designs into a weapon system that we can fight," Rugen said.
Jen Judson is an award-winning journalist covering land warfare for Defense News. She has also worked for Politico and Inside Defense. She holds a Master of Science degree in journalism from Boston University and a Bachelor of Arts degree from Kenyon College.