In West Palm Beach, Florida, and Amarillo, Texas, two different aircraft are coming together in a sprint to the starting line of the Army’s much anticipated flight demonstrations of future helicopter concepts in 2017.
The Army plans to design and field a future vertical lift aircraft and is expected to kick off that program of record in the 2019 time frame. The expectation is to buy a new family of helicopters through a competition and field the new aircraft at some point in the early 2030s, although the Army has talked about speeding up that fielding timeline to the late 2020s.
But first the Army plans to demonstrate Joint Multi-Role (JMR) air vehicle capability at a 2017 flight demonstration in order to help the service fully define requirements for the Future Vertical Lift (FVL) program.
A Bell Helicopter and Lockheed Martin team is mating the entire wing -- which is one big part -- onto the fuselage in Texas of its advanced tiltrotor concept the V-280 Valor, according to Vince Tobin, Bell’s vice president for advanced tiltrotor systems.
Sikorsky and Boeing have all of its Defiant coaxial helicopter parts in fabrication, some have already been delivered to the final assembly facility in Florida, Pat Donnelly, Boeing’s program director, said. Notably, the fuselage is in California being assembled and the team plans to conduct flight loads verification before shipping it to Florida.