As part of the Army Aviation balance between modernizing today’s high OPTEMPO fleets and planning for future requirements, Army leadership acknowledges the genesis of a next generation multi-service platform commonly dubbed the Joint Multi-Role aircraft.
Speaking at the recent Association of the United States Army annual meeting and symposium, Maj. Gen. Tim Crosby, U.S. Army Program Executive Officer for Aviation, offered a vision for “a 2030 aim point for a Joint Multi-Role kind of system – I am not going to name it today as JMR but people are kind of referring to it as that – but a system that is scalable in its architecture. And our focus will be, we believe, towards a Utility/Attack variant…That’s the investment we need to continue to focus on while we continue to sustain and modernize our fleet that is currently in the fight.”
Crosby reiterated his thoughts just three weeks later, in a Nov. 2 media briefing following the delivery of the first Apache Block III platform to the U.S. Army.
“We’ve also got that end point of what is that new capability that we are looking for in some sort of Joint Multi-Role aircraft – whether it be tilt-rotor or rotary wing – some sort of future vertical lift technology,” he said. “With the limited S&T funds we are going to focus towards that. We’ve got a couple of scenarios ongoing that we have put on contract in pursuit of that. We’ve got the Improved Turbine Engine Program that we are working to be the powertrain enabler, if you will. So we are doing those kinds of enabling technologies to kind of tell us what’s out there that will then shape our vision for what that new capability is.”
The Army is also working with industry to further determine “what’s out there,” sharing information through an upcoming industry conference planned for mid-November.
According to the conference announcement, the Army’s Aviation Applied Technology Directorate will be hosting the industry conference “in support of a planned Joint Multi-Role (JMR) Technology Demonstrator (TD) program.”
“It is clear that the capabilities demanded of the Department of Defense (DoD) future rotorcraft fleet cannot be achieved through incremental upgrades to the current fleet,” it states. “As a result, the DoD has described the need for a JMR family of vertical lift aircraft that includes multiple sizes/classes of vehicles, addresses the vertical lift needs across the DoD, and achieves significant commonality between platforms.”
Desired vehicle attributes of the JMR family include:
- scalable common core architecture;
- integrated aircraft survivability;
- speed of 170+ knots;
- a combat radius of 424 kilometers;
- vehicle performance at 6,ooo feet and 95 degrees Fahrenheit (6K/95);
- shipboard compatibility;
- improved fuel efficiency;
- improved supportability and affordability;
- optionally manned capability, and;
The announcement adds, “To prepare the DoD for decisions regarding the potential replacement of current fleet aircraft with new build systems, the DoD has proposed a JMR TD effort that will demonstrate air vehicle and mission systems technologies for the next generation rotary wing fleet.”
The JMR TD industry conference, planned for Nov. 18, 2011, will update industry “with the current status of the JMR TD program with a primary focus toward soliciting feedback on the Government’s evolving plans for the Mission Systems Demonstration phase of the program.”