Bell Helicopter is so confident in their new V-280 tilt-rotor prototype that they want the Pentagon to accelerate the Future Vertical Lift program by five to eight years. This would pull production of the first future helicopter replacement, twice as fast and longer-ranged replacement for Army UH-60s and Marine UH-1s, from the 2030s to as early as 2025.
The Army should cancel its $10 billion Improved Turbine Engine Program (ITEP), which aims to boost existing helicopters’ power by 50 percent and reallocate the money to the all-new FVL.
Russian rockets and massed rifle fire during the Iraq war showed the vulnerability of existing US helicopters.
Boeing and Sikorsky don’t share Bell’s passion for accelerating FVL, either. They both build helicopters in current service with the Army – the Boeing CH-47 and AH-64, the Sikorsky UH-60 – so keeping those systems in service longer is a sure bet for their business. Replacing those current helicopters with FVL, by contrast, runs the risk that Boeing’s and Sikorsky’s products will be replaced by Bell’s.
Brian Wang is a Futurist Thought Leader and a popular Science blogger with 1 million readers per month. His blog Nextbigfuture.com is ranked #1 Science News Blog. It covers many disruptive technology and trends including Space, Robotics, Artificial Intelligence, Medicine, Anti-aging Biotechnology, and Nanotechnology.
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