Industry teams are currently anticipating a near term announcement for the Joint Multi Role Technology Demonstrator (JMR TD) program. The program was outlined in a January 2013 Broad Agency Announcement, with industry responses delivered in March.
Some of the supporting government documentation noted that recent study findings “concluded that the DoD rotary wing aviation fleet is aging and upgrades to current fleet aircraft will not provide the capabilities required for future operations. Additionally, because of the time in service for currently fielded helicopters, many of the decision points for the future fleet will occur within the next 10 years.”
Identifying exacerbating circumstances like a rotary wing operational tempo (OPTEMPO) in Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation Enduring Freedom being “five times that of peacetime, and much higher than the design usage spectrum,” the documentation concluded that “The current fleet of DoD rotorcraft cannot continue to be incrementally improved to meet future operational requirements. Significant improvement in vertical lift, range, speed, payload, survivability, reliability, and reduced logistical footprint are all required to meet future needs and can only be achieved through the application of new technologies and designs. Operational costs must be reduced to a fraction of those for the current fleet.”
The JMR TD is one of at least several science and technology efforts addressing future rotorcraft needs. The initial phase of the TD effort will address “technical risk associated with achieving next-generation vertical take-off and landing flight performance, affordability and reliability that greatly surpasses the DoD’s currently fielded VTOL capability.”
Industry representatives have said that they expect to hear some word from the Army on the technology demonstration program “in the next couple of weeks” with the initial awards anticipated later this fiscal year using FY’13 funding. It is believed that the Army plans to issue three or four initial awards with a “down select” in the June 2014 timeframe to possibly two flying demonstrators.