The US military and NASA recently announced the award of five agreements/contracts for the Concept Design and Analysis (CDA) of a Vertical Takeoff and Landing (VTOL) Joint Heavy Lift (JHL) rotorcraft. This is a futuristic aircraft that would carry roughly the capacity of a modern C-130 Hercules Transport, but with the ability to take off and land like a helicopter. No current US military helicopter even comes close.
To meet this goal, the competitors are deploying some radical and different technologies in their proposals. DID describes & explains them.
At the same time, the US Marine Corps' vital medium-heavy lift CH-53E Super Sea Stallion helicopters are beginning to to wear out their airframes. Hence the HLR Heavy Lift Replacement program, aimed at fielding new-build CH-53X aircraft beginning in 2012.
As runaway cost growth on numerous US defense programs creates concern and pressures for program consolidation, however, some observers think the USMC's affordable CH-53X track upgrade may be sidetracked via a merger with the R&D heavy, schedule-uncertain, JHL. This has implications for Marine Corps aviation - and there are potential interactions with the US Air Force's $10-11 billion combat search-and-rescue CSAR-X/PRV helicopter program as well.
DID explains the platforms, strategies, and choices ahead.
- The JHL Program
- The Contenders
- The Modernized Standbys
- Sikorsky's Compound Helicopter Option
- The Tilt-Rotors
- 'Borging' HLR & the CH-53's Future
- Additional Readings & Sources: JHL Program
- Additional Readings & Sources: HLR Program (CH-53X)