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Army Looking for a Few Good Helicopter Designs

The U.S. Army is evaluating new stealth helicopter designs in a quest to update the capabilities of its choppers. Military helicopter design has been fairly consistent for decades; the proposed aircraft represent a departure (in some cases, a dramatic departure) from traditional models.

A rendering of the AVX helicopter design for the Army's Joint Multi-Role project. Image: AVX

The Army has signed technology investment agreements with Bell and Lockheed Martin, Boeing and Sikorsky, Karem Aircraft, and AVX Aviation to develop prototypes for light- and medium-sized helicopters. The four teams will compete for the business as part of the Joint Multi-Role (JMR) Technology Demonstrator Phase 1 program. The teams have nine months to submit prototypes. Two will be chosen to be built by 2018, with full deployment by 2030.

The helicopters must be able to travel at 265 miles per hour (double current speeds); be able to hover at altitudes of 6,000 ft.; and must be quieter than current models.

Bell/Lockheed came up with the V-280 Valor tiltrotor, which has rotors attached to wings. Boeing and Sikorsky will base their model on the X-2, an experimental helicopter that can fly at 290 mph. Karem’s TR36TD Optimum Speed Tiltrotor (OSTR) looks like a V-22. The company claims the craft could fly as fast as 414 mph. AVX Aircraft has proposed a dual-rotor craft with two propellers in the rear to increase speed. Of the four, only Boeing and Sikorsky have a prototype available for testing. Neither AVX nor Karem have ever built an aircraft at all.

Source: Foreign Policy

About Brian Albright

Brian Albright is a contributing editor to Digital Engineering. Send e-mail about this article to DE-Editors@digitaleng.news.