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Author: Subject: Future Helicopter thread, part 2
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[*] posted on 11-4-2018 at 05:50 PM


Black Hawk Road Map Features Jet-Smooth Flight, Autonomous Capability

Apr 10, 2018

Tony Osborne | Aviation Week & Space Technology

Sikorsky has lifted the veil on a series of technological enhancements that could help keep its Black Hawk utility helicopter relevant until the 2070s.

Some of the technology insertions, detailed to Latin American air force leaders on April 4 at the FIDAE Airshow in Santiago, Chile, have already been well-documented by the manufacturer.

These include the development of the Improved Turbine Engine Program (ITEP) to boost the rotorcraft’s hot-and-high performance and the plan to turn the Black Hawk into an optionally piloted vehicle that could be flown with two pilots, one pilot or no pilot at all.

Others, including an advanced tail rotor and new main rotor blade tip as well as a more capable main gearbox, are being matured more quietly as improvements to the aircraft that could be made available over the next five years, says Chris van Buiten, vice president of Sikorsky’s Innovations group.

- Matrix technology is being installed into UH-60A to prove retrofitability
- New gearbox will be needed to support installation of ITEP engine

Many of the technologies being studied are currently at technology readiness levels of 5-6, and if implemented will be targeted at the U.S. government customer first, but it is unclear whether they will form part of a new Black Hawk variant or merely cut into the existing production runs as incremental upgrades.

Among them is a new advanced main rotor blade tip, designed to replace the swept-tapered anhedral (downward-pointed) currently used on the UH-60M.

“That swept-tapered anhedral is the best we could design and build 15 years ago,” says van Buiten. New computer technologies have been able to develop different-shaped blade tips, he notes, which could allow several hundred pounds of additional payload. Other changes include adjustments to the tail rotor’s blade chord and rotor hub, again to improve payload and reduce maintenance costs.

The company is also exploring changes to the main gearbox that would allow it to take “greater advantage of the ITEP engine at lower-density altitudes,” says van Buiten. “Today’s gearbox can support 3,400 shp. . . . We want to fit more power into the same space,” he adds.

A larger main fuel cell at the rear of the fuselage could be introduced as well, as could conformal auxiliary fuel tanks to increase range.

One technology that holds particular promise is a hub-mounted vibration suppressor to replace the Black Hawk’s current bifilar vibration absorber. The suppressor, developed by Lord Corp., has been flight-tested by Sikorsky as part of the U.S. Army Aviation Applied Technology Directorate’s Active Rotor Component Demonstration and proved it could produce near jet-smooth flight, says van Buiten.


The suppressor, developed by Lord Corp. and flight-tested by Sikorsky and the U.S. Army, proved it could produce near jet-smooth flight. Credit: Sikorsky

The computer-controlled vibration suppressor reads the vibrations in the rotor hub and then spins a number of masses and generates moments that cancel out different vibrations, rather than the handful that can be cancelled out by the bifilar.

“It’s an early application of active rotor technology,” says van Buiten, “It is a tricky environment, but it is easier trying to do it on the blade . . . attacking the vibration at source,” he says.
But Army aviators do not need a jet-smooth ride, van Buiten points out. The real benefit would come from extending the life of components on the helicopter.

“A more benign environment will improve reliability, improve availability and reduce maintenance,” he says. Perhaps more crucially, the suppressor could find use in Sikorsky’s commercial products, the S-76 medium helicopter and the S-92 heavy helicopter, both of which use a bifilar. The S-92 could be an early beneficiary, as it shares much of its dynamic system with the Black Hawk. The S-76 and S-92 are widely used as VIP helicopters, where the benefits of a smoother flight would be widely appreciated. Air ambulances and military medevacs also could benefit, as patients could receive better medical care in flight thanks to lower vibration.

Next on the agenda is to further prove the adaptability of the company’s Matrix autonomous flight technology. So far, this has been tested on its S-76 Sikorsky Autonomy Research Aircraft testbed, but now the company is installing the technology on an early-model UH-60A that is due to fly toward the end of the year.


Hub-mounted vibration suppressor (right) could replace the Black Hawk’s current bifilar rotor vibration absorber. Credit: Sikorsky

“We want to show the retrofitability; if you can do it on an A-model, then it is easy to do it to an M-model . . . and that holds tremendous promise,” says van Buiten. Once operational, the demonstrator will prove the ability of the Matrix system to assist with two-pilot, one-pilot and then later autonomous operations.

“It will demonstrate how it can be a partner in a complex mission and help eliminate controlled flight into terrain,” says van Buiten. “The same sensors that fly when no one is onboard would be vigilant while there are two pilots onboard, augmenting their decision-making.”

The Matrix UH-60A will be a simpler helicopter than the UH-60MU that has already conducted trials using the Matrix system, as the UH-60MU required significant modifications to its hydraulic electrical system and servos.

The system being fitted to the UH-60A will be “far more retrofittable,” adds Van Buiten.
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[*] posted on 17-4-2018 at 04:20 PM


Chinese Z-20 Medium Lift Utility Helicopter in Final Stages of Development

(Source: Chinese Military Review; issued April 16, 2018)



New Images of underdevelopment Chinese 10 ton Z-20 Medium Lift Utility Helicopter suggest that it is in final stages of testing and will soon be ready for operational testing by China's People's Liberation Army. Z-20 Medium Lift Utility Helicopter has already completed its high altitude tests at Xiahe airfield in China's Gansu Province.

Z-20 Medium Lift Utility Helicopter's design bears a strong resemblance with its American counterpart S-70C (export version of Sikorsky UH-60 Black Hawk) which is in service with People's Liberation Army since 1980s. But Chinese helicopter is certainly not entirely a copy as it employs five-blade main rotor unlike Four-blade main rotor used by American S-70.

Once its development is completed and it is accepted into service, additional versions like Multi-Mission Maritime Helicopter for anti-submarine warfare (ASW), anti-surface warfare (ASUW) and combat search and rescue (CSAR) will also start emerging.

-ends-
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[*] posted on 18-4-2018 at 12:25 PM


ANALYSIS: Sikorsky pressing on with S-97 in pursuit of Army scout replacement

17 April, 2018 SOURCE: Flight International BY: Garrett Reim Los Angeles

According to test pilot lore, when Sikorsky tried flying its first advancing blade concept on the experimental S-69 rotorcraft – a system with two stacked blades rotating in opposite directions– the machine jackhammered so roughly that it rattled loose a gold crown in the pilot’s mouth. Sikorsky cannot confirm that legend, but acknowledges that its 1970s-era co-axial compound helicopter, which was powered by four jet engines and required two pilots to maintain control, was not a smooth ride.

“The S-69’s vibration was so violent that the crew could not read the instrument panel,” says Chris Van Buiten, vice-president of Sikorsky Innovations.

Decades later, advancements in Sikorsky’s advancing blade concept, made via the company’s Collier Trophy-winning X2 experimental rotorcraft, have reduced vibrations dramatically and could find their way into active military service as part of a follow-on rotorcraft, the S-97 Raider. The company is set to resume testing of the aircraft this spring, after one of its demonstrators suffered a hard landing last August, grounding the programme for more than six months. But when the S-97 Raider resumes flight it will stand alone as the only clean-sheet helicopter with flight hours and performance to fulfil the US Army’s vision of a scout and light attack helicopter: the so-called Future Vertical Lift (FVL) Capability Set One.

The service has done without a scout helicopter since retiring the Bell OH-58 Kiowa in 2017, and this opportunity is not lost on Sikorsky. “An intense focus for us is the Cap Set One FVL.

We think that’s a great starting point for us,” Van Buiten says. “We see applications for the S-97 for troop assault, special ops, recon light attack, search and rescue and, in the future, an optimally piloted aircraft operating with two, one, or zero crew.”

The aircraft has a gross weight of about 5,440kg (12,000lb) and capacity for a pilot, co-pilot and six passengers. Its planned payload would include Lockheed Martin AGM-114 Hellfire air-to-surface missiles, 2.75in rockets, plus 7.62mm and .50cal guns.

Officially, Capability Set One is not requested by the army until 2030 and after the delivery of Capability Set Three, which is the replacement for the Sikorsky UH-60 Black Hawk and Boeing AH-64 Apache. However, repeated public remarks by US generals show that ground forces may push the scout helicopter to the top of their priorities, if given the chance and the funding by Congress.

"It is still readily apparent that the most critical gap right now for the army is a light-armed reconnaissance helicopter that has the ability to fight for information about terrain and the enemy, that enables the ground force commanders, that gives decision space and manoeuvre room and reaction time," Maj Gen William Gayler, Commanding General, US Army Aviation Centre of Excellence, said at the Army Aviation Association of America summit in 2017. “We are certainly looking for every option and every opportunity that we can to field as quickly as possible the Capability Set One, the light-attack reconnaissance."


Sikorsky

Higher, hotter, faster, further – with finesse

The S-97 Raider’s advancing blade concept features a pair of rigid, contra-rotating co-axial rotors – similar in some ways to the Russian Kamov Ka-50 light-attack helicopter. Contra-rotating blades eliminate the need for a power-sapping tail rotor to counteract torque. And together they provide balanced lift. On any rotorcraft an individual blade is either advancing – that is, sweeping in the direction of the aircraft’s travel – or retreating, and the relative airspeed difference means advancing blades produce more lift than retreating blades. But with a contra-rotating pair of rotors, an advancing blade on one side of the aircraft is naturally balanced by an advancing blade on the other.

Thus the Raider, with contra-rotating and rigid blades, does away with the swash plate mechanism of traditional single-rotor designs, which increases blade pitch in retreat and decreases it in advance, to balance their lift. The pair of rigid rotors – there is some feathering owing to flex in their structure – can run just 36in apart and, since there is neither need nor facility to increase the pitch of retreating blades, overall drag is reduced.

As in any compound helicopter, propulsion is provided principally by the tail rotor. The main rotors are mostly about lift and manoeuvrability, so they can thus run slower – with less drag – than they would if having to provide both lift and propulsion. “At top speed the rotor provides lift equal to weight, but virtually no thrust. The thrust all comes from the propeller,” says Van Buiten. “In low- and mid-speed flight the pilot can choose a balance between the propeller and the rotor for thrust, although there is an automated mode. In the automated mode the flight controls choose the most efficient balance.”

But the pusher propeller can also be disengaged via a clutch. “Say we get combat damage and lose the prop. We don’t need the prop,” Van Buiten says. “We’ve flown the helicopter at 150kt [277km/h] with the prop disengaged.”

When the Raider resumes testing this spring Sikorsky plans to first probe the outer limits of its speed. “The programme has completed low-speed handling qualities evaluation and expanded the speed envelope to 150kt,” says Raider lead test pilot Bill Fell. “We plan to increase the speed envelope to 180kt, then 200kt and then to 220kt.” The Raider’s predecessor, the X2, reached a top speed of 250kt in 2010.


Sikorsky

Sikorsky will then test load factors up to 3g on the Raider, says Fell. “We will do a series of turns, pull-ups, and push-overs.”

The S-97 has completed 20h of flight testing and a couple of hundred hours of ground testing, according to the company.

Eventually, the rotorcraft will test its ability to hover out of ground effect at 6,000ft, at up to 35°C (95°F). Sikorsky estimates its combat radius to be 205nm (380km).
Manoeuvrable, but marketable?

Fell says the S-97 manoeuvres differently than a conventional helicopter. “The prop provides a thrust vector independent of the main rotor. This allows the pilot to hover nose up with positive propeller thrust or nose down with negative prop thrust,” he says. “It also allows the pilot to dip the rotor or nose attitude to accelerate, or accelerate level using the prop.”

The rigid rotor and stiff properties of the advancing-blade concept also allow the helicopter to transfer more engine power into greater acceleration and less rotor lag. “The greater acceleration and reduced lag create a sports car or fighter feel to the Raider,” says Fell.

Sikorsky believes its nimble helicopter could have special operations uses, based on its long range, relatively quiet flight and lack of downwash. The helicopter could be a replacement for the US Special Operations Command’s Boeing MH-6 Little Bird light-assault helicopter. And, its relatively small rotor diameter – 10.7m (35ft) – could be useful in navigating between tall buildings during urban firefights. By comparison, the Little Bird’s rotor diameter is just over 8.2m, and the Black Hawk’s 16.5m.

“The combination of the speed, manoeuvrability and acoustics results in very dramatic reductions in hits that a Raider would take in a battlefield,” Van Buiten says, noting internal company simulations. “It’s just much more survivable.”

The company says it is also rigging the helicopter for unmanned autonomous flight: an ability that could be useful for flying scouting missions in dangerous airspace.

Yet, however impressive the S-97 Raider’s performance may sound, its future is tenuous without an army production contract. And those have been elusive, with the service cancelling numerous procurement plans of clean-sheet designs over the years, including the Boeing-Sikorsky RAH-66 Comanche scout in 2004.

“The development programmes have all been cancelled, restarted and re-cancelled again,” says Mike Hirschberg, executive director of the American Helicopter Society International. “The army has been back and forth of what their requirement is, Capability Set One or Three.”

That creates a lot of uncertainty for Sikorsky and its 30 partner suppliers in the Raider programme, which have together invested more than $200 million. Partner suppliers are not guaranteed production contracts should an S-97 programme get started by the army, but are presumed to have an advantage because of their inside knowledge of the helicopter, according to Van Buiten. Sikorsky also invested $50 million in developing the X2 demonstrator.

In fact, the whole industry appears to be holding its breath for the army to make its buying decisions, as equipment replacement cycles in the USA and Europe come to an end over the next decade, notes Ray Jaworowski, senior aerospace analyst with Forecast International. “If you look at Future Vertical Lift as a whole, not just Capability Set One, but all five levels, it’s really hard to understate how important Future Vertical Lift is to the military market.

“Starting in the late 2020s, maybe around 2027, you see a big decline [in helicopter purchases] and the market doesn’t start to ramp up until Future Vertical Lift starts to ramp up in the 2030s.”
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[*] posted on 18-4-2018 at 04:32 PM


Sikorsky Positions CH-53K King Stallion For Foreign Orders

Apr 18, 2018

Tony Osborne | Aviation Week & Space Technology

Debuting the Marine Corps' newest helicopter at a show outside the U.S. indicates the extent to which Sikorsky is preparing to fight for export orders for its CH-53K King Stallion.

The three-engine, fly-by-wire behemoth is barely out of flight testing but is already challenging a veteran opponent, Boeing’s CH-47 Chinook. With only a handful of CH-53Ks built and about 2,000 flying hours, Sikorsky and its owner, Lockheed Martin, are betting on the CH-53K’s mix of new technology, provisioned airframe and capability growth to ensure that replacing Germany’s CH-53G Stallion fleet is added to its win column. The U.S. Marines Corps is already a customer.

- CH-53K was airlifted to Germany in a C-17 Globemaster in readiness for ILA show
- Debut display as Marine Corps prepares for first deliveries later this year

Although Germany is not likely to decide on the CH-53G’s replacement until 2019, Sikorsky is banking on a flying display appearance at the ILA Berlin Air Show, April 25-29, to make a notable impression.

Test pilots Stephen McCulley and Christiaan Correy are confident the 7-min. demonstration they have put together will highlight the King Stallion’s key attributes admirably.

“We wanted to show the maneuverability of such a large aircraft with maneuvers that were representative of what a typical Marine Corps crew would be flying in their mission profiles,” says McCulley, Sikorsky’s chief experimental test pilot on the CH-53K program and the flight commander for the displays at the ILA Air Show.

“Fly-by-wire sets this aircraft apart from the others . . . [as does its] excess power,” he adds.


Despite increased performance and weight, the CH-53K can fit into the same space as the Echo model. Lance Cpl. Molly Hampton/U.S. Marine Corps

During the demonstration, the two pilots will use the power to show an impressive 3,000-4,000-fpm climb rate and speed, racing the aircraft up to 160 kt. in straight-line passes, and banking turns that will push the aircraft toward a 60-deg.-of-bank angle. The fly-by-wire control system will come into its own during the pirouette maneuver. Having established forward flight down the runway, “we will mash the [yaw] pedal” says Correy, and “[the helicopter] will yaw about the mast,” at a maximum yaw rate of around 30 deg. per sec.

“I would struggle to find a mission-representative task for that,” admits Correy. Both pilots agree that even very experienced pilots would find it difficult to perform such a maneuver in a conventional non-fly-by-wire machine.

“This is a feature of the fly-by-wire; it is tracking that velocity as we fly down the runway,” says McCulley. “It makes us look really good.”


With seven CH-53Ks flying, Sikorsky intends to deliver the first examples to the U.S. Marines Corp. this year.

For Marine Corps air crew, the fly-by-wire will likely become an invaluable tool, enabling the positioning of the aircraft to a point over the ground with little effect from wind gusts or the downwash of other aircraft operating in the vicinity. Such stability paves the way for landings in extremely poor visibility such as brownout or whiteout conditions. The active inceptor cyclic and collective boast additional controls that enable incremental adjustments in the hover mode.

So-called beeper switches, when clicked, move the helicopter just feet at a time in the vertical or horizontal plane, which allows for easy adjustments while picking up external loads. The active collective will provide tactile feedback when the engines reach certain performance parameters; this is especially important in the case of engine failure.

The CH-53K display at ILA is possible because of the completion of flight testing to open what Sikorsky calls the “critical flight envelope.” This milestone has seen the aircraft fly at speeds of up to 200 kt. in a dive as well as land and take off on surfaces sloped up to 12 deg.

Technology has been a major driver to ensure that the CH-53K can lift nearly three times the payload of its predecessor yet stay within the size envelope that allows the aircraft to be folded and stored on an amphibious assault ship or even transported in the back of an airlifter. This capability was demonstrated with the airlift of the aircraft to Germany at the end of March in readiness for the airshow.

“Basically, the world has changed, and you need to start operating in a very different environment where high-hot capabilities with extreme loads are needed,” says Michael Torok, Sikorsky’s CH-53K program vice president.

Experience gleaned in the Afghan conflict has prompted the Marines to up-armor their ground vehicles. A Humvee utility vehicle, which previously weighed 6,000-7,000 lb., can now weigh twice that, thanks to additional ballistic armor.

Even the Humvee’s partial replacement, the Joint Light Tactical Vehicle, weighs a basic 14,000 lb. before weapons and additional kit are fitted. Company studies have found that a wide range of NATO and German vehicles can be fitted internally or carried externally.

“Everything the Marines and other services use [in combat] is also getting much heavier . . . so you have heavier stuff in more austere, extreme environments. . . . And this is the only aircraft that can do it,” says Torok.

To deliver the extra performance, Sikorsky returned to the drawing board when it came to the aircraft’s dynamic system.

Merely scaling up the main gearbox from the CH-53E would have resulted in a system “too large and too heavy to ever have a helicopter wrapped around it,” says Torok.

So rather than using a planetary-gear-based design, Sikorsky opted for a split torque system similar to the one developed for the RAH-66 Comanche.

Essentially, in a traditional gearbox engine torque drive, the small gears drive the one large gear, which drives the rotor system. But in a split torque gearbox, the torque from the engines is split into separate paths through multiple pinions to a planetary stage. The split torque approach is seen by engineers as being more reliable and one that can save considerable volume and weight. Studies are underway, says Torok, to use the gearbox technology on smaller helicopters.

The gearbox is driven by a trio of 7,500-shp General Electric (GE) T408 turboshafts, one of the most powerful helicopter engines in service in the West. This compares with the 4,300 shp produced by the GE T64-GE-416 that power the CH-53E. Because the aircraft should fit into the same physical space as the CH-53E, particularly in ship hangars and deck lifts, Sikorsky was forced to use the same main rotor diameter—roughly 79 ft.—as the older aircraft.

But the company is using what Torok calls a “fourth-generation” main rotor blade, which is a combination of different airfoil designs. The blade uses an all-composite spar, and a wider chord is featured, but with an anhydral, tapered tip that helps to improve hover performance.

The blades themselves are fitted to a one-piece elastomerically articulated titanium rotor head.

“The performance on a rotor is all about the tip,” says Torok. “[You want to] create a big vortex at the tip; the key is to figure out how to make that as small and smooth as possible because as that trails, it impacts the performance of the following blades,” he adds.

Increased performance in computing and computational fluid dynamics has enabled Sikorsky engineers to examine the airflow around blades at a “macro scale,” notes Torok, providing a better understanding of the associated stall boundaries and turbulence.

Meanwhile, the four tail-rotor blades have a larger surface area and produce as much thrust as the main rotor blades on the company’s S-76. And as on other Sikorsky designs, the tail rotor is canted, which has little impact on anti-torque but brings additional lift benefits.

For weight optimization, the fuselage has titanium frames under the gearbox to carry the lift loads, but all skins and beams are carbon-fiber composite.

Sikorsky envisions the CH-35K becoming a logistician’s dream. The internal cabin has been made wider, allowing it to accommodate standard 463L pallets. This could pave the way for such pallets to be offloaded from a C-130 or C-17 airlifter and put directly onto the helicopter without the need for dismantling. Most loads, however, are likely to be underslung.

The CH-53K has three independent hooks for underslung loads to enable the carriage of three loads that can be dropped off at different sites. So far, Sikorsky has proved that a 36,000-lb. load can be lifted on the center, although 27,000 lb. will be the standard maximum external load.

For passengers flying on the CH-53K, the journey should be a bit more comfortable and clean than its predecessors. Both the CH-53D and -E have been known to leak hydraulic fluid and oil from above onto their passengers.

“There’s certainly a tradition in the Echo fleet that, ‘if you don’t see hydraulic oil, don’t fly it . . . because probably [the hydaulic system] is empty,’ but that is no longer the case,” says Torok, “We actually have to tell pilots on the CH-53K that you won’t see anything, and that is OK.”

Addressing these issues was an early priority. New-technology seals and joints have been introduced into the hydraulic system, and built-in leak detection has also been developed, which will bypass faulty components if a leak occurs. The company has also been working to improve maintainability and access to components. One outcome of this is the installation of additional hand and footholds around the aircraft so maintainers can more easily access different parts of the aircraft.

With a Milestone C production decision confirmation on April 14, 2017, Sikorsky began production on the first 26 helicopters. The initial delivery to the Marines is planned for later this year, followed by Initial Operational Test and Evaluation, to begin in 2019. The aircraft will start to replace the CH-53E at the end of 2019.

The Marines plan to purchase 200 aircraft, but an additional 20 could be added, according to its 2018 Aviation Plan. Upcoming tests include initial sea trials, preceded by electromagnetic radiation testing to confirm that electronic systems and radars operating at sea will not interfere with the aircraft’s systems. Meanwhile, there are plans to sacrifice the ground-test vehicle in order to conduct live-fire work to prove the aircraft’s survivability.
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[*] posted on 19-4-2018 at 06:06 PM


Anatomy Of Sikorsky-Boeing SB-1 Defiant

Apr 19, 2018

Graham Warwick | Aviation Week & Space Technology

Developed for the U.S. Army’s Joint Multi-Role Technology Demonstration, precursor to the Future Vertical Lift program, the Sikorsky-Boeing SB-1 Defiant is a coaxial-rotor compound helicopter. The aircraft is to fly in 2018, and the team is aiming for a speed of 250 kt., with increased range and hot-and-high performance compared with current helicopters. A critical goal is to demonstrate the tactical value of the configuration, with its rigid coaxial rotors and pusher propulsor, to the medium-lift utility mission now performed by the Sikorsky UH-60 Black Hawk.


Credit: Sikorsky-Boeing

1 | Low-drag Hubs
For yaw control at low speed, differential longitudinal cyclic pitch produces differential torque on the rotors. Hub fairings reduce drag at high speed and were increased in size when manual blade fold was added to the demonstrator. A derotated aero sail fairing between the hubs also reduces drag.

2 | Rigid Rotors
A coaxial lift-offset rotor generates lift on the advancing sides of contrarotating rotors, reducing retreating pitch and delaying stall on the retreating blades to enable higher forward speed. Rigid rotors provide high control power for agility and are placed close together to reduce drag. The propulsor enables rotors to be offloaded and slowed in forward flight to reduce drag and noise and enable higher speed.

3 | Pusher Propulsor
The variable-pitch propulsor, powered from the main transmission via a flexible drive, can be declutched in flight and on the ground to reduce noise and enhance safety. Propeller thrust can be reversed in flight, enabling level-attitude acceleration and deceleration. In hover, propeller forward/reverse thrust can be used to point the fuselage. The SB-1 is powered by two 4,000-shp Honeywell T55s.

4 | Active Controls
The SB-1 has fly-by-wire flight control, with active rudders and elevators on the tail. Active vibration control is key to
enabling high-speed flight with rigid coaxial rotors. Aircraft and sensor data are used for virtual monitoring of loads on critical components for condition-based maintenance.

Lineage


XH-59A, 1973-81. Credit: Sikorsky


X2 Technology Demonstrator, 2008-11. Credit: Sikorsky


S-97 Raider, 2015-present. Credit: Sikorsky
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[*] posted on 19-4-2018 at 06:11 PM


Anatomy Of Bell V-280 Valor

Apr 19, 2018

Graham Warwick | Aviation Week & Space Technology

The Bell V-280 Valor is an advanced tiltrotor developed for the U.S Army’s Joint Multi-Role Technology Demonstration, a precursor to the Future Vertical Lift program. The V-280 first flew Dec. 18, 2017. Bell aims to achieve a speed of 280 kt. with twice the range of a comparable medium-lift helicopter. But the critical goals are to demonstrate that a tiltrotor can be affordable and have hover performance and low-speed agility equivalent to a helicopter.


Credit: Bell

1 | Dynamic System
The elastomeric hub spring allows a high flapping angle to increase the rotor control margin and provide Level 1 handling qualities and high agility in low-speed flight. The wing shields side doors from rotor downwash. In a hard landing, rotor rotation ensures that dynamic components shed away from the fuselage.

2 | Fixed Engines
The 4,750-shp GE T64-419 engine remains horizontal; the proprotor and gearbox rotate. This eliminates exhaust impingement on the ground and leaves side doors clear for access/egress and field of view/fire. It also reduces testing to qualify the engine and systems in the nonrotating nacelle. Redundant systems are split 2:1 between nacelles for separation. All fuel is in the wing.

3 | Tailwheel Landing Gear
The tailwheel landing gear allows long sliding doors and leaves the nose free for sensors. The tailwheel is actively steered. High-set engines and lack of a tail rotor improve safety on the ground. The aircraft has triplex-redundant digital fly-by-wire controls and triple 3,000-psi hydraulic systems.


Credit: Bell Concept

4 | Straight Wing
The V-280 has a straight, constant-section wing with no dihedral, for simpler, cheaper construction. Skins are carbon-fiber broad goods with large-cell carbon core stiffening (no stringers) for simple layup. The spar has a constant contour and ply count from root to tip. Carbon-core-sandwich webs are room-temperature-bonded to skins, eliminating fasteners. Labor hours are reduced almost 60% and tooling costs 50% compared to the V-22 wing.
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[*] posted on 19-4-2018 at 06:18 PM


Anatomy Of U.S. Army Improved Turbine Engine Program

Apr 19, 2018

Graham Warwick | Aviation Week & Space Technology

The U.S. Army’s Improved Turbine Engine (ITE) program is developing a more powerful and fuel-efficient 3,000-shp-class turboshaft to replace the General Electric T700 powering the Sikorsky UH-60M Black Hawk and Boeing AH-64E Apache attack helicopter. General Electric and ATEC (Advanced Turbine Engine Co., a team of Honeywell and Pratt & Whitney) are developing competing engines.

Requirement

The ITE is required to improve performance in hot-and-high conditions (defined as 6,000-ft. density altitude and 95F ambient temperature and known as 6K/95F), which has been eroded by weight growth over time. In 6K/95F conditions, the ITE-powered UH-60M will carry a full complement of 13 troops over the required radius of 225 km (120 nm), compared with just five troops over less distance with the current 2,000-shp-class T700-701D engines.


Credit: U.S. ARMY

The Engines

ATEC is developing the dual-spool T900-900 (formerly HPW3000) and GE Aviation the T901-900 (formerly GE3000). ATEC says its architecture, in which each spool operates at its most efficient design point, improves fuel efficiency and flight characteristics, increases durability and reduces maintenance. GE says a single-spool core engine—as used on the T700—is a simpler design with fewer parts, lower weight, increased reliability and greater growth.


T900-900. Credit: ATEC


T901-900. Credit: GE Aviation

Performance

Goals of the ITE are to increase power 50% (with 25% growth capability) and fuel efficiency 25% within the size and weight of the T700 so the engine can be retrofitted into UH-60s and AH-64s. Production and maintenance costs are to be reduced by 20-35% and design life extended by 20% to 6,000 hr. to minimize cost of ownership. Objective requirements at 6K/95F include 2,050-shp maximum power and 0.352 lb./hp-hr. or better specific fuel consumption at 1,450 shp.


Credit: GE Aviation

The Program

ATEC and GE will take their engines through preliminary design reviews late this year under 24-month technology-maturation/risk-reduction contracts awarded in August 2016. The Army plans to award a single contract for ITE engineering and manufacturing development in the first quarter of 2019, leading to a critical design review in the second quarter of 2020 and testing of the first engine by the third quarter of 2021. Flight tests will follow, with a production decision planned in 2024.
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[*] posted on 20-4-2018 at 11:13 AM


Sikorsky partners with Rheinmetall on CH-53K bid

Beth Stevenson, London - IHS Jane's Defence Weekly

19 April 2018

Sikorsky and Rheinmetall will present an industrialisation plan during the Berlin Air Show in late April that will show how German industry will support their bid should they be selected for the air force’s Schwerer Transporthubschrauber (STH) heavy-lift rotorcraft programme.

Germany is being offered both the Sikorsky CH-53K Super Stallion and Boeing CH-47F Chinook to replace the incumbent CH-53G Stallion fleet from 2022, and as with most German defence acquisitions, the industrial benefits that each one can offer to the government is expected to increase the appeal of the respective bids.

Sikorsky announced in February that it had teamed with Rheinmetall for the programme, with the latter acting as a strategic partner to bid for STH, with the OEM claiming at the time that more German companies would be added to the team in due course.

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[*] posted on 24-4-2018 at 01:30 PM


ILA 2018: Luftwaffe set for imminent release of heavy-lift helo RFP

Gareth Jennings, Berlin - IHS Jane's Defence Weekly

22 April 2018


Having been in service since the 1970s, the CH-53’s days are numbered in German service as the country looks to field a replacement in the early 2020s. Source: IHS Markit/Patrick Allen

The Schwere Transporthubschrauber (STH) replacement programme for the Luftwaffe’s ageing VFW-Sikorsky CH-53G-series helicopters is soon to enter into its realisation phase, with the request for proposals (RFP) set to be issued in May.

Boeing and Lockheed Martin are competing the requirement with their CH-47F Chinook and CH-53K King Stallion platforms respectively. The Luftwaffe is looking for between 40 and 60 new helicopters to enter service from 2023 to coincide with the planned out-of-service date of 2025 for the nearly 70 CH-53GA/GS/GE platforms.

Speaking ahead of the ILA Berlin Airshow running from 25 to 29 April, Colonel Bernhard Martin of the Luftwaffe’s Plans and Policy Office spelled out some of the history of the STH requirement, the goals the Luftwaffe has for the requirement, and the current state of proceedings.

“With the CH-53 in use today a number of capability shortfalls have been identified and it is expected to be removed from service in 2025,” Col Martin said. “The end of industrial support in combination with other technical issues is resulting already in substantial shortfalls in our flying hours [from the required 9,000 hours per year to just 6,000 hours]. Also, the German Air Force has agreed within the NATO Defence Planning Process [NDPP] to support CSAR [combat search and rescue] and SOF [special operations forces] missions. These requirements cannot be accomplished with the CH-53 without substantial limitations.”

The Ministry of Defence (MoD) Planning Office and the Federal Office of Bundeswehr Equipment and Information technology are the two relevant offices for German military procurement processes and decisions, as well as in-service support. Decisions are usually taken for a timeline of about 15 years, comparing actual and future capability requirements. When the services and the procurement managers identify a potential future capability gap, the procurement process is initiated.

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[*] posted on 24-4-2018 at 01:50 PM


Sikorsky modifies Raider helicopter to use US Army’s future engine

By: Jen Judson   3 days ago


Sikorsky's S-97 Raider takes flight. (Courtesy of Sikorsky and Lockheed Martin)

WASHINGTON — Lockheed Martin-owned Sikorsky has engineered its S-97 Raider coaxial experimental helicopter to use the U.S. Army’s future engine in an attempt to present the aircraft as a strong and soon-to-be-ready contender for the Army’s Future Vertical Lift family of aircraft expected to come online in the 2030s.

Raider will be able to accept either one or two of the Improved Turbine Engine Program engines from the start, which will also help support bringing ITEP to fruition, Chris Van Buiten, the company’s vice president of technology and innovation, told Defense News in an interview.

“The engine in Raider is just a beautiful match,” he said.

The Army is said to be on track to award a contract to one of two teams currently developing a future helicopter engine in late 2018. The service awarded contracts to two separate teams to design future engines to replace an enormous portion of the service’s helicopters under the ITEP program. The Advanced Turbine Engine Company — a Honeywell and Pratt & Whitney team — was awarded a $154 million contract while GE Aviation was awarded a $102 million contract in August 2016.

ITEP is meant to replace every engine in both AH-64 Apache attack helicopters and UH-60 Black Hawks, and will provide both aircraft boosted capability from 3,000 horsepower to a 25 percent full-burn reduction.

It is also possible ITEP could be used in FVL aircraft, particularly in the lighter variant.

Raider currently flies with GE’s YT706-GE-700R engine.

While the Army has been adamant that it plans to first procure a medium-lift helicopter within the FVL program, the service has recently signaled it is more open to considering a lighter aircraft early on in the program capable of attack reconnaissance.

The Army’s largest aviation capability gap remains armed reconnaissance after the service decided to retire the OH-58D Kiowa and replace it with larger, more expensive AH-64 Apache attack helicopters teamed with Shadow unmanned aircraft systems.

Van Buiten believes there is a case for the Army to first procure a light helicopter, of which Raider fits perfectly, because of the critical gap left when the Kiowa was retired.

Apache filling the gap now is “a big airplane for the reconnaissance role mission. As forces get pushed back by rapid-reaction rocket-kind of threats and will have to execute at a greater radius, I think the Apache is going to start to struggle in that recon role and have a lot of time on station,” he said.

Sikorsky and Boeing are actually building a larger version of Raider called the SB-1 Defiant, which fits in the medium-lift class, and will fly as part of an Army demonstration called the Joint Multi-Role program that aims to evaluate the capabilities of two separate advanced helicopter concepts as it tries to shape the requirements for an FVL aircraft.

Bell Helicopter has designed the second demonstrator — a tilt-rotor called the V-280 Valor — which has been flying since late 2017.

While there’s a case to start with medium-lift, “you could argue that FVL light is just a smaller, lower-cost program,” Van Buiten said. “It’s hundreds of aircraft instead of thousands and might be a prudent way to get the ball rolling, get a win on the board, move FVL forward. It’s kind of a good warmup for a larger FVL program, and the multimission capability of Raider can give them a lot of flexibility.”

The Raider program experienced a setback last year when the helicopter sustained “substantial damage” from a hard landing during a flight test at the Sikorsky Development Flight Center in West Palm Beach, Florida, in early August 2017.

The hard landing has not stopped Sikorsky from driving its work on the aircraft forward and the company is taking its second copy of Raider and preparing it to take flight this year as early as this spring, Van Buiten said.

“It’s a really exciting time, and we are seeing, even though we are in this dwell time not flying, we are seeing growing customer interest in the program,” he said.
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[*] posted on 24-4-2018 at 07:45 PM


ILA 2018: King Stallion to make international debut in Berlin

Gareth Jennings, Berlin - IHS Jane's Defence Weekly

23 April 2018


A CH-53K being unloaded from a C-17 transport aircraft weeks ahead of the ILA Berlin Airshow, which is where it made its international debut to the public. The heavy-lift helicopter will be on static and flying displays throughout the event. Source: Lockheed Martin

With Lockheed Martin targeting the Luftwaffe’s current Schwere Transporthubschrauber (STH) heavy-lift helicopter programme as the first export sales opportunity for its Sikorsky CH-53K King Stallion, the company has chosen the ILA Berlin Airshow 2018 to debut the aircraft to an international audience.

As part of its sales drive to Germany as a potential replacement for the Luftwaffe’s nearly 70 ageing VFW-Sikorsky CH-53GA/GE/GS Stallions with up to 60 new platforms, Lockheed Martin has ferried over one helicopter aboard a US Air Force Boeing C-17 Globemaster III strategic transport aircraft.

A company official previously told Jane’s that the helicopter is to feature on the static and flying display schedules, and that a number of other potential customers among the nearly 40 nationalities that are expected to be represented at the event will be briefed on its capabilities and the wider programme. The helicopter is to return to the United States after the show is concluded on 29 April.

As part of its drive into Germany, Lockheed Martin announced a series of national partners for the CH-53K programme ahead of the ILA event. These comprise Rheinmetall, which will serve as the German prime for the helicopter; MTU; ZFL; Autoflug; Hydro; Rockwell Collins Germany; Jenoptik; Hensoldt; Liebherr; and Rohde & Schwarz. Further German companies are likely to be added as the programme progresses.

Designed to satisfy a US Marine Corps (USMC) ‘ship-to-shore’ heavy vertical-lift requirement, the CH-53K follows the same lineage as its CH-53E predecessor in terms of its baseline design. However, the improvement comes in a vastly improved heavy-lift capability (the K can lift three times the amount of the E through a combination of more powerful engines and advanced rotor blades) that is delivered within roughly the same physical and logistical footprint.

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[*] posted on 26-4-2018 at 08:39 PM


ANALYSIS: US Army's powerful vision for ITEP engine

25 April, 2018 SOURCE: FlightGlobal.com BY: Stephen Trimble Washington DC

A 12-year-old competition to define the most important military helicopter engine for perhaps the next half a century has entered an intense, final phase: by January 2019, the US Army plans to select the contractor for its Improved Turbine Engine Programme (ITEP). The ITEP contract will develop and test a new, 3,000shp (2,240kW)-class turboshaft engine as a drop-in replacement after 2025 for more than 1,300 Sikorsky UH-60 Black Hawks and more than 600 Boeing AH-64 Apaches in the army's inventory alone.

ITEP is also the army's favoured option to power the smallest versions of a proposed family of high-speed, Future Vertical Lift (FVL) systems, so the winning bidder for the engine contract is likely to control the market for medium-sized military rotorcraft propulsion for decades to come.

The competition for the prized contract formed quickly after the army launched the predecessor Advanced Affordable Turbine Engine (AATE) programme in 2006, which transitioned into ITEP four years later.

GE Aviation supplies the 2,000shp-class T700-701 engines for nearly all Apaches and Black Hawks today, so it jumped into the ITEP competition with the T901 (formerly GE3000) design, which features a similar, one-spool architecture for the gas generator module of the engine.

Meanwhile, Honeywell and Pratt & Whitney decided to team up as ATEC for the chance to seize GE's near-monopoly position on propulsion for medium-lift, military helicopters. The army's requirement for a 3,000shp engine bridges a gap in turboshaft power between the T700 and Honeywell's 4,800shp T55 engine, which is used to power the heavy-lift Boeing CH-47 Chinook.

But the nature of the army's requirements for ITEP pose some unique – and impressive – challenges for competing design teams. For the first time, the service is developing a new turboshaft engine as a "drop-in" replacement on existing aircraft, rather than for a clean-sheet new rotorcraft. That means the 3,000shp ITEP must be a drop-in replacement for the 2,000shp T700 on Black Hawk and Apache helicopters, with minimal changes required to the inlet, mount and exhaust. As a result, the army requires the ITEP engine to generate 50% more power within the same space and roughly same volume of airflow as used by the T700 today.

Moreover, the army also wants the ITEP engine to be cheaper to operate and easier to maintain than the T700. In addition to producing 50% more thrust, the service requires its engine to consume 25% less fuel in an uninstalled configuration.

Asking for 50% more thrust and 25% less fuel consumption with no increase in engine size or weight is a tall order, but the army has no other option. Even with recent upgrades, the existing Black Hawk and Apache fleets are running out of time.

Army aviation leaders have been explaining the depth of the problem for years. The empty weight of the UH-60 has increased by 35kg (78lb) a year on average, as the army has responded to new threats and missions by adding on an ever-increasing array of gadgets. A platoon of 40 soldiers once carried by four UH-60s now requires about twice the number of aircraft.

The army also is operating in a different environment from the one it anticipated when the UH-60 and AH-64 were designed in the mid-1970s. The original requirements for both aircraft called for the ability to hover at 2,000ft with the temperature at 35˚C (95˚F). By the early 2000s, it had increased the "hot/high" hovering requirement to 4,000ft, requiring GE to increase thrust from 1,700shp in the original -701 engine to 2,000shp in the T701D.

By fielding a 50% more powerful ITEP engine, the army plans to raise the hovering ceiling for the Black Hawk and Apache fleets on a hot day to 6,000ft, allowing both aircraft to operate on a greater percentage of hot days in Afghanistan. A UH-60 powered by a T700-701D engine can hover at 6,000ft, but only when carrying no more than five soldiers, according to army studies. The same aircraft powered by the ITEP engine should be able to lift 13 troops, with 65% more range.

The ITEP engine's improved fuel efficiency will help solve multiple problems. In addition to extending the range of a fully loaded UH-60 or AH-64, the army is relying on ITEP to dramatically cut fuel consumption. By carrying a larger payload much farther, the service reduces the amount of fuel consumed on each trip and the overall number of sorties.

Those reasons help explain why ITEP has jumped to the top of the priority list among army aviation acquisition programmes.

Developing and fielding the new 3,000shp engine is more important right now than FVL – its concept that aims to replace all the army's helicopters over time with high-speed rotorcraft, such as the Bell V-280 Valor, Sikorsky S-97 Raider or Sikorsky/Boeing SB-1 Defiant.

As the ITEP programme transitions from a competition to a development effort, the question will be whether either bidder is up to the task. The two competitive rivals – GE and ATEC – are approaching the problem with different engine architectures.

GE designed the T700 in the mid-1970s with a single-spool gas generator – that is, a single turbine module drives a compressor to generate power. That single-spool approach has served the T700 and -701 engine family over a 40-year-period. The company's submitted T901 design for the ITEP contract features the same architecture.

"These are relatively small engines to begin with. They have to fit into the existing helicopters. There's not a lot of extra space," says Mike Sousa, a business development director for GE's advanced turboshaft programmes.

"If you've got the ability to make a compressor that will meet their requirements for the programme without the added complexity of going to two spools, that certainly seems like the right approach," he adds. "It's going to help you reach the weight objectives of the programme and the part count is going to be lower."

In some ways, the debate over a single- or dual-spool architecture for the ITEP engine echoes the rivalry in the market for commercial turbofan engines. GE and P&W both have relied on variations of a dual-spool engine architecture since the 1950s, while Rolls-Royce had moved to a three-spool design by the late 1960s. In that debate, R-R has argued that a three-spool approach creates opportunities to reduce part count by, for instance, using fewer stages in the high-pressure compressor.

"It's very possible if we were doing a single-spool that we might have an extra stage of compression, so there are some possible part-count offsets from the aerodynamic advantages of going to the two-spool," says Jerry Wheeler, vice-president of the ATEC joint venture.

Both bidding teams acknowledge the challenge of meeting the army's requirements. To generate 50% more thrust within the same dimensions and mass flow volume as the -701, the core of the ITEP engine needs to be significantly more efficient at generating power. Each individual component within the engine must be improved. Traditional metallic rolling element bearings, for example, will not be sufficient. GE and ATEC have designed their engines with hybrid bearings, fearing metallic races and ceramic rollers.

Both companies have produced engines with hybrid bearings outside the military turboshaft market, but it is considered a critical technology for the ITEP engine by the government. "Those bearings had run in our demonstrator engine testing, so they have been demonstrated in a relevant environment," says Wheeler.

Sousa agrees: "We have a whole bunch of data on that – both from other places within the business, as well as in turboshaft-specific demonstrators."

Other critical elements for a military turboshaft engine are the inlet particle separators. No civilian application of a turboshaft engine is meant to routinely operate in the kind of conditions that US Army helicopters face, especially in fine dust and sand particles found in the Middle East. Engine air particle separators have made huge strides in the past two decades, but the army wants to take the next step with that technology with the ITEP engine.

The challenge for the engine designer is coming up with the right method to screen out fine particles, while allowing the airflow to pass relatively undisturbed into the compressor of the engine. Meeting the army's "aggressive goals" for the particle separation device has been a key focus of development work on test rigs and demonstrators over the past decades. Both teams are convinced that the test data proves their technology is now ready to enter production.

"It was definitely one of the design challenges, but our inlet particle separator team did a fantastic job during the design process and we were able to prove it out through testing," Wheeler says.

In addition to Honeywell's experience with inlet particle separators on the T55 and T64 engines in military service, GE has dealt with the same issues with the -701 programme. "We have had a number of different technology programmes to demonstrate in the particle separator performance as well as pressure loss," Sousa says. "And the ways we do it today are fundamentally different from the ways we did it 30 years ago, when we were designing the T700. We certainly have much better modelling tools for particle separators that show us what happens to those particles."

Then, there is the core of the engine itself. The compressor for the ITEP must be able to ingest the airflow downstream of the particle separator, then convert the mass flow into a combustible gas with far greater efficiency than the -701 does today in order to meet the army's goals.

Both companies have the advantage of building on several decades of developments in 3D aerodynamic design of compressor aerofoils, the intricately shaped blades that guide the reluctant airflow to higher and higher pressures.

Packaged together, the new technologies will redefine the state of the art in the military turboshaft market, no matter which team wins the ITEP competition.

The engine is so powerful, in fact, that the army could be tempted to seek new improvements for the next iteration of the UH-60 fleet. In fact, Sikorsky has developed a roadmap of potential technology improvements for the Black Hawk that could be enabled by installing the ITEP engine. A chart showing each of the improvements was displayed in a presentation to several Latin American military chiefs during a 4 April press conference at the FIDAE air show in Santiago, Chile.

"We are just looking at designs that can improve the aerodynamics so you get more thrust at higher altitude," Chris Van Buiten, vice-president of Sikorsky Innovations, tells FlightGlobal. "It's our job just to be ready in case the customer is interested in not having that barrier."

"In fact, if you just drop an ITEP engine into a Black Hawk, you get a big change in capability with what's already there," Van Buiten says. "At the same time, we are maturing technology to bring that even further."

A good example, he says, is potentially funding an upgrade to the gearbox, which is currently limited to transmitting 3,400shp to the main rotor system. With two ITEP engines generating a total of 6,000shp, a more powerful gearbox would allow the UH-60 to hover with more people above 6,000ft.

Another upgrade candidate is the tail rotor. If the main rotor is provided with more lifting authority, an improved tail rotor design may be necessary to counter the higher torque. "If you think about putting in an ITEP engine, you could run out of tail rotor authority when you're at high altitude," Van Buiten says. "The Black Hawk has got a pretty exceptional tail rotor already, so it will capture a lot of it."
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[*] posted on 26-4-2018 at 09:02 PM


ILA: Boeing unveils team for German Chinook bid

25 April, 2018 SOURCE: FlightGlobal.com BY: Michael Gubisch Berlin

Boeing has partnered with 10 aerospace suppliers that have operations in Germany to support its bid to supply CH-47 Chinooks for the nation’s heavy-lift helicopter competition.

In addition to several German equipment and training specialist suppliers, the group includes CAE, Diehl Defence, Honeywell, Liebherr, Rockwell Collins and Rolls-Royce.

Boeing says it reached agreements with the partners to provide “local long-term support and training” services, including maintenance, air crew and technical training, research and development efforts, and “supply chain enhancements”.

The initial group represent the “first of many partners” for the programme and “additional German companies will be joining Boeing’s industrial plan for collaboration on communication and mission systems integration”, the US airframer says.

Speaking at the ILA air show in Berlin on 25 April, Boeing’s director for vertical lift programmes in Germany, Michael Hostetter, ruled out a German Chinook production line because that would be incompatible with the country’s “very clear” requirement to have a “low-risk, off-the-shelf” solution.


Boeing

He says the tandem-rotor helicopter would provide a “proven and reliable” and “extremely affordable” platform for the Bundeswehr.

Boeing’s offer will either be based on the standard CH-47F model or extended-range MH-47G version; both variants can be fitted with in-flight refuelling systems – a key requirement for Germany, says Hostetter.

However, he declines to elaborate on any potential further configurations, as Berlin has not yet released a final request for proposals. That is expected by year-end, or in early 2019.
Hostetter says Boeing will be able to deliver aircraft from its Philadelphia production line with a lead time of 36-40 months.

Boeing adds that if Germany were to select the Chinook, the aircraft would provide the country with “interoperability that other helicopters cannot” as several regional neighbours – the Netherlands, Greece, Italy, Spain, Turkey and the UK – operate the type.

Sikorsky's CH-53K is the other contender for the heavy-lift helicopter contract.
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[*] posted on 27-4-2018 at 02:31 PM


ILA 2018: Proposals for Germany’s heavy-lift helo delayed, as Boeing and Sikorsky disclose industrial teaming arrangements

Gareth Jennings, Berlin - IHS Jane's Defence Weekly

26 April 2018


The CH-53K (foreground) and CH-47F (background) both featured on the flightline at the ILA Airshow 2018 in Berlin. Source: IHS Markit/Gareth Jennings

The request for proposals (RFP) for Germany’s Schwere Transporthubschrauber (STH) heavy-lift helicopter programme that was due to be issued in the coming days is not now expected to be released until the end of the year, industry sources disclosed at the ILA Airshow in Berlin.

Senior representatives of the two competing manufacturers, Boeing and Sikorsky, said the RFP for between 40 and 60 new heavy-lift helicopters to replace the Luftwaffe’s 70 CH-53GA/GS/GE platforms is likely to be issued in December. Previously, the Bundeswehr had told Jane’s that it would be released in May.

No reason for the delay in the issuance of the RFP was given, but it is not expected to affect the timetable for the STH procurement which is scheduled to see a contract award in the fourth quarter of 2020 ahead of deliveries to take place between 2023 and 2031.

Briefing at the ILA Airshow on 25 and 26 April respectively, Boeing and Sikorsky announced that they had signed up 10 German companies each to serve as industrial partners. For Boeing, its CH-47F Chinook team comprises Aero Bildung, CAE, Aircraft Philipp, Cotesa Composites, Honeywell, Rolls-Royce, Diehl Defence, Liebherr, Reiser, and Rockwell Collins. For Sikorsky, its CH-53K King Stallion team comprises Rheinmetall, MTU, ZFL, Autoflug, Hydro, Rockwell Collins, Jenoptik, Hensoldt, Liebherr, and Rohde & Schwarz. Both camps noted that additional partners could be added as the programme progresses.

Speaking ahead of the ILA Airshow, Colonel Bernhard Martin of the Luftwaffe’s Plans and Policy Office spelled out some of the history of the STH requirement, the goals the Luftwaffe has for the requirement, and the current state of proceedings.

“[For] the CH-53 in use today a number of capability shortfalls have been identified and it is expected to be removed from service in 2025,” Col Martin said.

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[*] posted on 27-4-2018 at 02:52 PM


Quad A 2018: Raider two slated to fly this summer

26th April 2018 - 21:01 GMT | by Ashley Roque in Nashville



Sikorsky's second S-97 Raider — pitched as a lighter attack helicopter for the US military's Future Vertical Lift (FVL) programme — has rolled off the production line and started ground testing.

At the Army Aviation Association of America's annual conference, Sikorsky used the opportunity to tell service leaders its second Raider aircraft is ready to pickup testing where the first one stopped.

'It's like if you're baking at home and it's a recipe, you follow the recipe,' Tim Malia, Sikorsky's programme management director for FVL Light told Shephard 26 April. 'So we had a recipe for the first one and we're following that recipe for the second, we're just changing one ingredient by modifying the software.'

Last year, software issues caused a hard landing on the first aircraft and it was permanently grounded. To get back in the game, Sikorsky spent seven months building a second one and began grounding testing the helicopter 25 April in West Palm Beach, Florida.

As part of the ground testing, Sikorsky has run the rotors and engine and is starting to 'track and balance' the rotor system. By this summer, Malia said the new Raider will be in the air for flight testing and he is expecting to get the aircraft up to 200kt.

Over the next year the company will also be looking at the aircraft's handling qualities and envelop expansion, as well as exploring weaponisation options. Although Malia declined to discuss specific weapons, he noted that the company fully expects directed energy weapons — to include high-energy lasers — to be part of the military's FVL roadmap.

The Pentagon is billing FVL as the service’s next-generation aircraft and one expected to enter the fleet in the 2030s. As part of the effort, the army is funding development of two demonstrator aircraft under its Joint Multi-Role programme — Sikorsky-Boeing’s Defiant and Bell V-280 Valor tiltrotor.

It is not clear, though, whether the service will pursue the larger, capability set 3 aircraft first or a smaller, more lethal attack reconnaissance helicopter or both together.

'We're certainly aligning our future research and development and acquisition efforts to reflect what those [NDS] priorities are,' Vice Chief of Staff Gen James McConville told reporters 27 March.

'You can make the argument that a long-range assault helicopter increases lethality,' he added. 'I could probably make a stronger argument a future attack reconnaissance helicopter, that's more lethal, is going to provide more lethality for the force.'

If and when the service does decide to go after the lighter, attack capability set 1 aircraft, Sikorsky is prepared to pitch its Raider.

'We're looking forward to ongoing customer engagement this summer to see what direction they want to take the programme in and we are excited to support them,' Malia explained.

Bell, meanwhile, is also preparing to pitch a smaller aircraft.

Carl Coffman, the company's director for global business development for advanced tiltrotor systems, told Shephard the company is exploring its options and in discussions with the army. He declined to discuss which aircraft the company is considering.
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[*] posted on 27-4-2018 at 06:59 PM


Bell V-280 Passes 140 Kt. On Way To ‘Cruise Mode’

Apr 26, 2018

James Drew | Aerospace Daily & Defense Report


Bell confirms an Army experimental test pilot has now flown the V-280 Valor prototype and the company is actively encouraging the Marine Corps to fly too.
Bell

NASHVILLE, Tennessee—As the Bell V-280 Valor continues cruising through test cards in Amarillo, Texas, the company now expects to meet all the key performance parameters set by the U.S. Army under the Joint Multi-Role Technology Demonstrator (JMR-TD) initiative “by the end of summer.”

Jeffrey Schloesser, Bell’s executive vice president of strategic pursuits, tells Aerospace DAILY the next-generation tiltrotor prototype so far has achieved a speed of 140 kt. (half speed) with proprotors 60-deg. forward. Valor first flew on Dec. 18, 2017.

“We’re at the point now where we’re switching to an L-39 chase jet rather than a chase helicopter, because we’ll be going faster than helicopter speeds,” he says. “During the summer, we plan on reaching most of the required performance parameters that were part of the test program. One of those is cruise mode, also known as ‘airplane mode’ or ‘zero-degree pylon.’”

Once the company has met the Army’s requirements under JMR-TD, it will begin working through its own test objectives, including autonomous flight and potentially going above 300 kt.
(the objective speed is 280 kt.).

Bell will install a mission equipment package provided by key supplier Lockheed Martin, including a Pilot Distributed Aperture System. Just like the Lockheed Martin F-35 Lightning II’s AAQ-37 Electro-Optical Distributed Aperture System, Valor’s “PDAS” will provide V-280 operators with 360-deg. unobstructed visibility.

Bell won’t give an exact month for when it expects to hit cruise mode, nor will it confirm flying autonomously this year or next.

“We’re following our test cards, as you’d expect for an all-new, clean-sheet design,” Schloesser says. “Eventually you’ll see us flying autonomously; that’s something we’ve set as a goal for the program. That won’t be this summer, but it’s not years away—it’s imminent. If not this year, early next year.”

As confidence in the V-280 swells at Bell, the company is actively encouraging government test pilots to come and fly it.

Many service members have already visited Bell’s facilities in Dallas/Fort Worth, Texas, to fly the simulator and see the systems integration laboratory, but the company also wants government experimental test pilots at the controls during the test program.

Schloesser confirms that an Army pilot already has flown the V-280 during testing and provided a debriefing to the JMR-TD program team at Huntsville, Alabama’s Redstone Arsenal. The warrant officer is an experimental test pilot from the “Night Stalkers” 160th Special Operations Aviation Regiment.

Now that an Army aviator has taken the reins, Schloesser also encourages the Marine Corps to get involved. Valor is one of several candidates for the Pentagon’s Future Vertical Lift-Medium, an Army-led, multiservice acquisition program aimed at eventually replacing the Army Sikorsky H-60 Black Hawk and Marine Corps Bell H-1 Huey. Since JMR-TD is a risk-reduction exercise for FVL, Bell encourages both services to monitor testing, review the data, and fly.

“We’d like to invite other experimental test pilots from the Marine Corps to also play a role,” Schloesser says. “The more they get to fly the aircraft in all its modes—hover through cruise—the better. As much as the test data will prove out what we believe to be the facts, having service test pilots who can give a subjective analysis from the reality of them flying is really important.”

While the Marines are already believers in tiltrotor technology, having adopted the Bell-Boeing V-22 Osprey, Bell has a ways to go in convincing the Army that tiltrotors are safe, affordable, producible in large numbers, and as agile as a helicopter.

“While speed and range are absolutely critical to this program, I can’t overemphasize that the agility at hover, near-hover, and slow speeds is absolutely critical. We’ll prove that, too,” Schloesser explains. “The Army is the one we have to convince, and they have very stringent requirements for operations on the ‘X,’ in the objective area. Level 1 handling is going to be critical to demonstrate.

“I don’t expect the Army to trust our word, but take a hard look at the test results. We’re going to prove this aircraft is every bit as agile as a helicopter on the ‘X.’”
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[*] posted on 27-4-2018 at 07:07 PM


UTAS Positions As Key Supplier For Future Vertical Lift

Apr 26, 2018

James Drew | Aerospace Daily & Defense Report


UTAS wants to upgrade its AVR-2B Laser Targeting Warning System on the Apache, Black Hawk and Chinook to improve pilotage in degraded visual environments.

NASHVILLE, Tennessee—As Future Vertical Lift steps into the No. 3 position on the U.S. Army’s list of modernization priorities, UTC Aerospace Systems (UTAS) is positioning itself as a key supplier for legacy helicopter upgrades and next-generation, clean-sheet designs.

Ed McKee, the company’s director for Redstone Arsenal programs, says UTAS has been making “significant investments” to improve the performance of vertical-lift platforms, especially technologies for Degraded Visual Environment (DVE), Improved Turbine Engine (ITEP), and Future Vertical Lift (FVL) programs. Those three abbreviations—DVE, ITEP and FVL—represent the Army’s main lines of effort for rotorcraft modernization.

“Our message is that UTAS is making a significant investment in technologies to improve aircraft performance in the current fleet of aircraft, and to mature those technologies to meet Future Vertical Lift requirements,” McKee says.

Having supplied the AVR-2B Laser Targeting Warning Systems for the Boeing AH-64 Apache, CH-47 Chinook and Sikorsky UH-60 Black Hawk, UTAS wants to upgrade those sensors with a small imaging camera to “provide 360-deg. situational awareness as part of a degraded visual environment solution.”

This includes light detection and ranging.

The company’s DVE technology extends to vehicle management controls and a next-generation flight control computers, which would support the aircraft’s takeoffs and landings in blackout conditions caused by intense fog, dust or debris.

“Taking advantage of flight control computers and existing sensors will be our focus for any DVE discussions we have with the customer [the Army],” McKee explains.

For ITEP, the Army’s 3,000-shp T700 turboshaft engine replacement for the Black Hawk and Apache, UTAS could supply digital engine controls, inlet particle separators, fuel metering units, temperature sensors and fuel nozzles. The company has partnerships with the two leading contenders for ITEP, the Pratt & Whitney/Honeywell Advanced Turbine Engine Co. (ATEC) and GE Aviation, which have developed the T900 and T901, respectively.

Thus, no matter who is down-selected later this year for the full-scale development program, UTAS will play a role. “We’re investing in both teams,” McKee confirms.

For FVL, UTAS is again backing two sides. The established camps (the government and industry teams for Apache, Black Hawk and Chinook) want to see continued upgrades to existing rotorcraft, while others want greater investment in a next-generation, high-speed, long-range rotorcraft such as the Bell V-280 Valor or Sikorsky/Boeing SB-1 Defiant.

“Our approach to FVL is making investments today in technologies for potential retrofits and upgrades to increase the performance of the current fleet of aircraft—the Apaches, Black Hawks and Chinooks,” McKee says. “Then we’ll continue to mature those technologies to meet the requirements for FVL.”

UTAS has, again, specifically targeted next-generation flight control computers, but also lightweight, advanced structural composites, aircraft structural health monitoring and improved rotorcraft drive systems (especially for tail rotors). UTAS has backed both sides of the Army’s ongoing Joint Multi-Role Technology Demonstrator (JMR-TD) science and technology program, providing parts for both the V-280 Valor and SB-1 Defiant. McKee says UTAS also has components on Sikorsky’s S-97 Raider, which is targeting the Army’s emerging Capability Set 1/FVL-Light acquisition for an armed scout. “Raider is not part of JMR-TD, but we do have content on the S-97, if it ever becomes part of FVL” McKee says.

“Currently we provide the complete drive system on Apache, from the engine transmission all the way to the tail rotor,” McKee says. “We’re using that experience with new technologies that will reduce the weight and increase the performance of future drive systems.”

UTAS sees potential upgrades of the drive systems of the current fleet of rotorcraft as they incorporate the ITEP engine, as well as next-generation models for FVL.

Over the past two decades, the Army’s rotorcraft fleets gained weight as more and more mission and self-protection systems were added. UTAS believes its lighter drive systems could counteract some of that weight gain.

“We’re reducing that weight to bring back performance,” McKee says. “We’re interested in working with the original equipment manufacturers on whatever block upgrade they need.”

For FVL, UTAS is working with the platform manufacturers to provide advanced metallic materials for structural integrity and reduced weight. As the supplier of the drive system for the Bell-Boeing V-22 Osprey, UTAS also is in discussions with Bell about supplying the drive system on the V-280, if put into production.

Additionally, the company’s flight control computers leverage multicore processing for improved computing power as well as better cybersecurity. These flight control computers potentially could enable the first wave of “optionally manned” platforms.

For software-defined components, McKee says UTAS conforms to the Army’s open system standards, dubbed Future Airborne Capability Environment, or FACE.

For health monitoring, UTAS is invested in the Army’s emerging Future Embedded Rotorcraft Sustainment Technologies (FERST) program. “The next generation of platform and structural health monitoring are part of that, as is our electrical power distribution technologies,” McKee notes. “These are complete vehicle prognostic systems, rather than monitoring specific areas or targeted components.”

The Defense Department has an objective fleet of 1,375 Sikorsky UH/HH-60M Black Hawks for the Army as well as 760 V-models, upgraded by Northrop Grumman. It plans for 690 AH-64E Apaches, 473 CH-47Fs and 69 MH-47Gs. FVL-Medium initially would replace the Army’s H-60-series helicopters and the Marine Corps’ Bell H-1 Hueys.
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[*] posted on 27-4-2018 at 07:11 PM


U.S. Army: FVL Must Deliver More Capability At Right Cost

Apr 26, 2018

James Drew | Aerospace Daily & Defense Report


As the U.S. Army beds down its plans for Future Vertical Lift, the service’s vice chief of staff says he doesn’t want aircraft proposals that are too expensive to buy or operate.
U.S. Army

NASHVILLE, Tennessee—The vice chief of staff of the U.S. Army says that cost will be a decisive factor for determining when the service will step into a next-generation, high-speed, long-range rotorcraft under Future Vertical Lift (FVL).

Gen. James McConville told reporters at the Army Aviation Association of America’s annual symposium April 26 that “we’re all-in, if we can get that capability at the appropriate cost.”

The Army and Marine Corps have been lining up the multi-service procurement of a middleweight FVL platform to eventually replace their respective Sikorsky H-60 Black Hawk and Bell H-1 Huey fleets. However, the timing of a request for proposals for development as well as entry into service remains in flux.

With significant acquisition decision milestones coming up this year, McConville warns that the Army cannot afford to invest in “massive programs that overpromise, under deliver and die of their own weight.” Although an impressive aircraft, the Boeing-Sikorsky RAH-66 Comanche, terminated in 2004, was “too expensive to buy and operate,” he notes.

“Cost matters. We don’t want to buy something we can’t afford,” McConville said during a media roundtable. “We want much more capability for the dollar than we’ve gotten before. Don’t bring us exquisite, expensive things, because we can’t afford it. If it’s less expensive with more capability, that’s what we want.”

The timeline for FVL-Medium, as outlined in the service’s fiscal 2019 budget request, would issue a request for proposals for the initial technology maturation and risk-reduction phase in fiscal 2021. That would lead to a down-selection for the engineering and manufacturing development phase, with production and deployment starting around fiscal 2030.

The vertical lift industry has invested hundreds of millions of dollars in concept demonstrators, such as the Bell V-280 Valor and Sikorsky-Boeing SB-1 Defiant. The prime contractors and their suppliers have been calling for the Army to move faster, saying they cannot sustain this level of investment without firm requirements and an intent to buy.

Thus far, the Army hasn’t budged, despite raising Future Vertical Lift to its No. 3 modernization priority in the fiscal 2019 budget plan. Army leaders say they remain fully committed to an FVL procurement, including an optionally piloted middleweight replacement for the Black Hawk and light attack/armed reconnaissance platform.

But McConville would not be drawn on which platform is the higher priority, a Black Hawk replacement or armed scout, which would fill a void left by the retirement of the Bell OH-58D Kiowa Warrior. However, he indicates that incremental modernization of the current fleets of Black Hawks, Boeing AH-64 Apaches and CH-47 Chinooks cannot continue forever, saying, “once we start running out of letters for future upgrades, it’s time for a new aircraft.”

“Once we can field [FVL] at the right cost, that’s when we’ll bring the capability onboard,” McConville says. “We see exciting times ahead for Army Aviation. There’s a light at the end of the tunnel, and it’s not a train.”
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[*] posted on 28-4-2018 at 01:37 PM


AAAA 2018: US Army still deciding on first Future Vertical Lift capability set

Pat Host, Nashville, TN - IHS Jane's Defence Weekly

27 April 2018

Key Points

- The US Army is still debating which FVL capability set should lead the programme
- The two different capability sets represent light and medium aircraft

The US Army is still considering leading with one of two potential capability sets – one and three – for its Future Vertical Lift (FVL) effort, according to a key officer.

“We’re still in the process on staffing that,” FVL Cross Functional Team (CFT) Director Brigadier General Walter Rugen told reporters on 26 April at the Army Aviation Association of America (AAAA) conference. “They are both priorities.”

An industry source told Jane’s the army was leaning towards the medium utility capability set 3 (CS3) as opposed to the light attack capability set 1 (CS1).

(120 of 412 words)
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[*] posted on 28-4-2018 at 02:19 PM


Army’s Future Vertical Lift team working out how to get a helo within a decade

By: Jen Judson   5 hours ago


The Army is looking to replace its current fleet faster than originally planned through its Future Vertical Lift cross-functional team efforts. (Senior Airman Curt Beach/U.S. Air Force)

NASHVILLE, Tenn. — The Army’s Future Vertical Lift cross-functional team that falls under the service’s new Futures Command has a goal of getting a new helicopter much earlier than the long-stated projection of fielding an aircraft in the early 2030s.

The Army secretary has essentially directed the new CFT designed to address the service’s third-highest modernization priority to look at ways to buy helicopters within 10 years, Brig. Gen. Wally Rugen, the leader of the FVL CFT, said at the Army Aviation Association of America’s annual summit on April 27.

“If we wait for a typical capability development, we are looking at the 2030s, and that is not my charge,” Rugen said. “The secretary told us this decade.”

The Army is now weighing when and how it will procure two specific helicopters. It’s possible the Army will develop requirements for other aircraft that would fit into an FVL family, but for now the service is focusing on a Future Attack Reconnaissance Aircraft that would be categorized as a light helicopter and a Future Long-Range Assault Aircraft that would fit more in a medium-lift category.

Service leadership has been peppered with questions — since it articulated its intentions last month to focus on the two aircraft — as to whether it wants to first procure the attack reconnaissance or a long-range assault aircraft. Previously the Army was focused on prioritizing the medium-lift variant. But at the same time it consistently stated its No. 1 capability gap was armed reconnaissance.

But for the Army, the answer isn’t clear cut: It’s still analyzing all the possibilities. Leadership has explained that what will drive procurement, and when, will be based on when technology is ready at a reasonable cost.

“It’s not a prioritization thing,” Rugen said. “It’s where we find opportunity first.”

He added that industry has already shown great agility to bring something out of science and technology and, quite literally, into the sky rapidly through the Joint Multi-Role Program that will inform FVL requirements. Bell is already flying its V-280 Valor tiltrotor demonstrator, and the Sikorsky-Boeing team’s SB-1 Defiant will fly by the end of the year.

If something proves capable, the Army will jump on it, Rugen said, because “it gives us the speed we want.”

Meanwhile, Army Vice Chief of Staff Gen. James McConville took the opportunity at the Army Aviation Association of America event to ask the Army National Guard to provide leadership to the FVL team as the service develops its future aircraft.

“We are going to be a part of that and be right there in the decision-making for a new-start program and making sure that our capabilities are accounted for,” Brig. Gen. Timothy Gowen, the Army National Guard’s deputy commanding general at the Army Aviation Center of Excellence at Fort Rucker, Alabama, said at AAAA. “One of the things that the vice [chief of staff] pointed out is that FVL will not adversely affect [the Guard].”
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[*] posted on 28-4-2018 at 02:26 PM


The within 10 years is perfectly achievable as long as they go the route of these two Contenders, and not mentioned frequently, but very relevant nevertheless, is the fact the two designs are pretty much complimentary to each other...................V-280 VALOUR is possibly the better choice for long-range attacks over lower levels, but SB-1 DEFIANT may be the better choice for hot-and-high conditions.

If I was the US Forces, I'd pick BOTH, that way a level of both competition and capability in ALL climatic and height-above-sea-level conditions would be covered more than adequately.

The other benefit is that Armed Recon and Special Forces applications for a smaller FVL are already covered by the S-97 RAIDER; all you need to do is get the VALOUR team to do the same. Again, complimentary assets of great potential.

It's not a great stretch to S-97 RAIDER, SB-DEFIANT or V-280 VALOUR to change into a tandem-seat Attack Helicopter.
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[*] posted on 30-4-2018 at 03:48 PM


Not to mention you don't have a winner take all result that ends up with the loser going to the wall, leaving you with only one company to bid next time.



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the lips acquire stains,
the stains become a warning.
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[*] posted on 1-5-2018 at 08:30 PM


Sikorsky-Boeing SB>1 Defiant team overcomes transmission issue

Pat Host, Nashville, TN - Jane's International Defence Review

30 April 2018


Artist's illustration of the Sikorsky-Boeing SB>1 Defiant concept for the US Army's Joint Multi-Role Technology Demonstrator (JMR-TD) progamme. Source: Lockheed Martin

The Sikorsky-Boeing team developing its SB>1 Defiant aircraft for the US Army’s Joint Multi-Role Technology Development (JMR-TD) effort has recently overcome an issue related to the aircraft’s complex transmission, according to a pair of team officials.

Boeing Director of Business Development for Cargo Helicopters and FVL Randy Rotte told reporters on 26 April at the AAAA conference that the team had to perform a complete “re-run” on a portion of the transmission system. Rotte said Defiant’s transmission issues were mostly related to the hardness of internal gears.

As the Defiant has two rotors that spin counter to each other, the Sikorsky-Boeing team is aiming to achieve new feats in helicopter engineering. Sikorsky Director of Business Development for FVL Richard Koucheravy said Defiant’s transmission must turn two rotor heads in opposite directions, while a traditional helicopter features a single rotor transmission with a single output shaft driving a single mast. Defiant’s transmission, he said, has two drive masts in opposite directions.

The Sikorsky-Boeing team has also tackled a transmission engineering challenge aimed at providing Defiant with additional power during hover compared with traditional helicopters.

Koucheravy said a simple helicopter that has a single main rotor and tail rotor must also have an auxiliary drive or an additional drive shaft that goes back to the tail rotor. This tail rotor, he added, only carries about 15% of the aircraft’s total power, which makes it easier to drive an additional shaft back to the tail rotor because the aircraft only takes about 15% off the power.

On the other hand, Koucheravy said Defiant has to be able to take over 80% of the power and either put it into the main transmission or take about 80% of the power and push it back to the propeller.

(317 of 615 words)
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[*] posted on 5-5-2018 at 07:58 PM


UTAS Working with Army On Real-time HUMS

by Mark Huber - May 3, 2018, 11:35 AM

United Technologies Aerospace Systems (UTAS) is investing in new technologies for the Army’s Future Vertical Lift (FVL) program that may have more immediate retrofit benefits to the service’s current fleet of Apaches, Blackhawks, and Chinooks.

“The current fleet of Army aircraft have gained a significant amount of weight since coming into service and therefore their performance has been reduced,” explained Ed McKee, UTAS director for Redstone Arsenal Programs. “The target is to help the Army regain some of that performance and then mature those technologies to meet the requirements of Future Vertical Lift.

"Those types of technologies and components we are investing in for current fleet upgrade include drive systems, structural composites, the next generation of vehicle management controls, and health monitoring and structural health monitoring at the complete vehicle level not just a couple of vehicle components. The Army is looking at real-time HUMS as an objective for FVL to reduce sustainment costs and create maintenance-free operating periods for FVL rather than the regular maintenance intervals that are regularly performed on the current fleet of aircraft,” he said.

McKee said UTAS already provides the download HUMS system for the Army’s Blackhawk fleet and is currently working on the next generation of platform and component health monitoring within the Army’s Future Embedded Rotorcraft Sustainment and Technology program. He said once a real-time HUMS solution was developed as part of that initiative it could be retrofitted to the Army’s legacy fleet.

UTAS is also working with the Army on two other important rotorcraft programs that will benefit the current fleet, ITEP, the Improved Turbine Engine Program, and DVE-M, Degraded Visual Environment—Mitigation. The goal of the ITEP program is to provide an upgrade engine for Apaches and Blackhawks that will provide 50 percent more power, be 25 percent more fuel efficient, and have no net weight increase. The Army has selected two finalists for the ITEP competition—GE Aviation and the Advanced Turbine Engine Company, a joint venture of Honeywell and Pratt & Whitney. The Army is due to make a final selection in November. UTAS is working with both teams, providing technology and components including engine controls, fuel metering units, fuel nozzles, temperature sensors, and inlet particle separators.

On DVE-M, UTAS is fielding its Lidar (light detection and radar) airborne imaging sensor and next generation of vehicle/flight management controls. The Lidar is being tested in conjunction with midwave and shortwave radars. McKee pointed out that UTAS already supplies the laser warning system on the Army’s legacy Apaches, Blackhawks, and Chinooks and that upgrading the sensors on those aircraft with an imaging sensor could “provide that 360-degree situational awareness that is part of a DVE solution.” The other part would be the flight controls that would provide supervised autonomous flight “or some degree of optionally manned” flight that could automatically land the helicopter in degraded situations.
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[*] posted on 10-5-2018 at 11:32 AM


Canada And Boeing To Demo Autonomous Chinook

May 10, 2018

James Drew | Aviation Week & Space Technology

The U.S. Army deploys to some of the roughest and most hostile places on Earth, and the lives of soldiers to a large extent depend on the skill of aviators flying the land force’s Sikorsky UH-60 Black Hawks, Boeing AH-64 Apaches and CH-47 Chinooks.

As such, the concept of pilotless helicopters never really caught on as it has with combat jets for the U.S. Air Force and Navy.

But faced with manning challenges and modern Russian and Chinese surface-to-air missile threats, the idea of “supervised autonomy” for rotorcraft performing “dull, dirty and dangerous” missions is beginning to take hold.

Service leaders are now proclaiming that the next generation of high-speed, long-range Army Future Vertical Lift platforms will be “optionally piloted,” capable of flying with or without a human pilot physically pushing the controls.

- Ottawa to demonstrate autonomous CH-146, then CH-147F
- U.S. Army wants Chinook Block 2 to be optionally piloted

But the Army’s top brass does not necessarily want to wait until 2030 for this technology. The Army Aviation community is openly discussing equipping today’s rotorcraft with autonomous flight control equipment. The service sees this as a risk-reduction effort for next-generation vertical lift programs.

In fact, the prime candidate for supervised autonomous flight appears to be Boeing’s Chinook, a 50,000-lb. tandem-rotor cargo helicopter introduced in the 1960s. The latest, three-crew (pilot, co-pilot and flight engineer) version, the CH-47F, has a maximum speed of 160 kt. and capacity to carry 33 battle-ready troops or 24 litters.

With Boeing now under contract to develop the next version of the Chinook, the CH-47F “Block 2,” Army Chief of Staff Gen. Mark Milley believes this program should be the first to introduce optionally piloted capability on a standard Army Aviation platform in preparation for Future Vertical Lift.


The Royal Canadian Air Force operates 15 CH-147Fs, one of the most advanced configurations, with extended-range fuel tanks and a maximum gross weight of 54,000 lb. Credit: Royal Canadian Air Force

Brig. Gen. Thomas Todd, the Army’s program executive officer for aviation, recounted this directive during his presentation at the Army Aviation Association of America’s annual symposium in Nashville in late April.

“When we took this into Milestone B for a material decision last year, the chief said, ‘Look, we’re not going to do this unless you can tell me how it’s going to be optionally piloted,’” Todd recalls. “Because, you can imagine, that’s awfully hard to insert in the middle of a development effort if not previously planned.”

Fortuitously, a key international partner on the Chinook program has already begun studying autonomous flight controls for the helicopter. The Royal Canadian Air Force operates 15 F-models delivered in 2013 and 2014, designated the CH-147F.

It is already one of the most advanced Chinook configurations, equipped with extended-range fuel tanks, advanced survivability equipment, three machine gun posts and 54,000 lb. maximum weight rating.

According to Todd, Canada has been working with Boeing to demonstrate autonomous capability on the Chinook. The proposed technology builds on the CH-47F’s BAE Systems Digital Automatic Flight Control System (DAFCS), which already allows the aircraft to automatically fly point-to-point while maintaining preplanned routes, altitudes and airspeeds. The plan is to take this technology to a whole new level by introducing new sensors and algorithms for automated flight, navigation and obstacle avoidance.

“The ability to fly autonomously from ‘Point A’ to ‘Point B’ is there today, no doubt about it,” says Chuck Dabundo, Boeing’s vice president of cargo helicopter programs. “The areas of opportunity are the obstacle-avoidance sensors and algorithms for feedback into the flight control system and mission computers. Eventually, we’ll get to the point where you’ll pack stuff up and send it off to where it’s got to go.”

Randy Rotte, Boeing’s director of global sales and marketing for cargo and future vertical lift programs, notes that DAFCS is a key feature of the CH-47F, along with its machined airframe and Rockwell Collins Common Avionics Architecture System. DAFCS already greatly reduces pilot workload while making it safer to land in low visibility and brownout conditions. The introduction of supervised autonomy promises to make the CH-47 even simpler and safer to fly.

Although it is well over twice as heavy as a regular Black Hawk, Dabundo says size does not matter when it comes to fixed . . . autonomous flight. “The day is going to come when UPS is going to be using autonomous [Boeing] 747s to fly stuff around the world,” he says. “It’s coming, certainly within our lifetimes.”

Todd says if the Canadian demonstrations are successful, the technology could become available to the Army for introduction on the CH-47F Block 2, which will begin entering service in 2023. “We look forward to seeing that flight demonstration,” he says.

He cautions that the Army will not rush into it, because these systems are critical to flight safety. But he does believe the time is right to begin introducing supervised autonomy.

Todd pointed to Sikorsky and the U.S. Army Aviation and Missile Research Development and Engineering Center’s recent flight demonstrations with a self-flying A-model Black Hawk equipped with Sikorsky’s Matrix technology.

According to Col. Gregory Fortier, the Army’s project manager for cargo helicopters, Canada intends to first demonstrate supervised autonomy on the Bell CH-146 Griffon and then the CH-147F. Canada will start with laboratory tests of the required hardware and software before transitioning into flight demonstrations in the 2020 time frame.

The CH-47F Block 2 program will deliver 473 aircraft for the Army and Army Special Forces, not including potential foreign military sales. The first of three development models will enter assembly at Boeing’s Chinook production facility in Philadelphia in June. Flight testing will begin in mid-2019.
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