New Aircraft Maneuver Conference 2013

Posted on: October 25th, 2013 by Will Rodriguez 16 Comments
Bell V280 Valor photo by Will RodriguezBell V280 Valor photo by Will Rodriguez

Ever since my time as a rifle platoon leader in the 101st I’ve had a special place in my heart for the Blackhawk that only expanded to the attack helicopter crowd when I got to see a Cobra take out an Iraqi tank back in the day so at the Maneuver Conference I made a beeline to the aircraft that beat the air into submission.

The Army is looking at its next generation rotary aircraft to conduct the missions the OH-48D Kiowa, UH-60 Blackhawk, CH-47 Chinook and AH-64 Apache do today.  The solutions I saw at the conference fell into two categories, the tiltrotor (rotors that tilt from the vertical to the horizontal) and compound rotors (counter-rotating, coaxial main rotors).

The V-280 Valor (pictured above) looks like what you get after you leave a Blackhawk and an Osprey alone overnight.  There are some key differences though.  The Valor concept avoids the complexity of tilting engines with a system that only tilts the rotor.  It’s simpler and potentially safer and cheaper than the V22 Osprey’s approach.  The Valor is also much smaller and allows for loading/unloading to the side(s) unlike the Osprey’s rear approach. 

V 280 Valor Mock Up MNVR Conf 2013 Photo Will Rodriguez

V 280 Valor Mock Up MNVR Conf 2013 Photo Will Rodriguez

Estimated performance under high hot (6k feet, 95 deg) conditions would be 11 troops plus up to four crew at 280 mph.  The Bell aircraft concept is primarily seen as a replacement for the UH-60 Blackhawk but is also being marketed as a potential replacement to the Apache with a 30mm chin turret, 2.75” side mounted rocket pods and internally mounted hellfire type missiles in an opening bomb bay.

 

Sikorsky’s S-97 Raider and Defiant Concepts

S 97 Raider Mock Up MNVR Conf 2011 Photo by Will Rodriguez

S 97 Raider Mock Up MNVR Conf 2011 Photo by Will Rodriguez

Sikorsky had the record setting experimental X2, an old approach that’s new again displayed.  Sikorsky’s concept is the S97 Raider, a potential scout/light utility helo.  It featured tandem blades which cancel torque and the need for a tail rotor but leaving room for a push prop which can provide up to 70% of the helo’s thrust.  Target speed for the Raider is in excess of 250 mph.  Check out the S97 “Raider” video on YouTube for the military application. Two flying prototypes are in production.

Finally, here is the model of the “Defiant”.  Sikorsky is using the same technical approach described above but targeted at the utility role the Blackhawk currently fills.

 

Sikorsky Raider Model Photo by Will Rodriguez

Sikorsky Raider Model Photo by Will Rodriguez

All fascinating concepts being offered in the most trying financial times but take heart, that’s the same environment that eventually birthed the Blackhawk and Apache.

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16 comments
Tango9
Tango9

We've had Ospreys over the house over the last 2 years, but my last recollection was that they were undependable and pretty much flying coffins.  Now, I'll qualify that by saying I've been out of the game a few years so I'm not sure what upgrades/improvements have been made.

I'm sort of in the "if it ain't broke, don't fix it" camp.

LauraKinCA
LauraKinCA

Is the V280 supposed to take over where the Osprey left off, or to get past its performance record?

ArcticWarrior
ArcticWarrior

Good stuff. That V280, was it designed by James Cameron ????

And true, the Apache and Blackhawk were birthed in some dark times also......

majrod
majrod

@Tango9  Hi T.  Did you see my comment about missions down below?

AFSOC bought a couple.

LauraKinCA
LauraKinCA

Just thinking about the Osprey more. Last spring a couple flew over my house and I think they are a great concept platform, but seem to have got a bad rap - reputation-wise. Aren't there positive mission stories out there about them? They have unique capabilities that seems like we should be pursuing more.

Tango9
Tango9

@majrod @Tango9 I'll peek below but my first thought on reading your comment is:  "that figures"  lol

majrod
majrod

@LauraKinCAThe V280 will not replace the Osprey IF its selected.  

Osprey - Marines & AFSOC. V280 - Army? & TF160?  It has a long way to go though.  The picture is of a nonflying mock up.

The Osprey, like the overwhelming majority of new weapon systems, has a bad reputation because that's what the media does.  They sell controversy.  Admittedly the Osprey had a difficult development but its record in use/combat has been pretty good.

Some of the most notable being an 800mi hot LZ rescue mission of a downed aircraft crew and SOF in Afghanistan that could have only been accomplished by the Osprey with its range and altitude capabilities. http://defensetech.org/2011/09/23/the-cv-22s-800-mile-afghan-csar-mission/  The Osprey also conducted a CSAR of a downed F15 pilot during the Libya campaign in a fraction of the time it would have taken for a regular helicopter to execute the mission.  http://defensetech.org/2011/03/22/osprey-used-to-pick-up-strike-eagle-pilot/  I assure you time is pretty important to a pilot shot down behind enemy lines.

majrod
majrod

@ArcticWarrior @majrod @LauraKinCA  The C27J needs its own investigation.  Few realize it wa an Army program that the Air Force stole with the promise of flying those4 planes under the ground commanders direction and shortly after getting them, cancelled the program.  Brand new planes going to the bone yard.  CH47s forced to pick up the intratheatre lift mission (at no cost to the Air Force) is sold as USAF savings.

ArcticWarrior
ArcticWarrior

@majrod @ArcticWarrior @LauraKinCA The awesomeness of taking a perfectly capable aircraft and sending it to DavMon right from the factory. The USCG put in for all of them if the AF wont take them, SOCOM wants 8 and the USFS wants them for air tankers. The whole "duplication of effort" excuse.....light intra-theatre airlift - not unless it costs 135 million per unit.

 And while we are at it if the AF brass doesn't want the A10 Congress should grow some balls and change Key West over the petty arrogance of the AF Command.

 The Army wants a capable light theatre hauler not asking to take away global strike and anything else blue sky. Sorry about the rant, not into inter-service BS but airlift/resupply and CAS, the Infantry can live or die by lack of.

We had Sherpa's, tough little aircraft for tough conditions, they are just worn down....

majrod
majrod

@ArcticWarrior @majrod @LauraKinCAPlenty of love for the Shithook! http://www.army.mil/yearinphotos/2012/may.html#photo6

And here is what the CH47X might look like and that's after the F model. http://weapons.technology.youngester.com/2010/08/future-chinook-helicopter.html

It's just the article was about what I saw and  L asked about the Osprey.

Here's a link to an article about some of the other future concepts.  http://killerapps.foreignpolicy.com/posts/2013/10/07/meet_the_army_s_tricked_out_super_fast_stealth_copters_of_2030

majrod
majrod

@LauraKinCA @majrod  They say the Osprey can autorotate.  I don't believe it or it's only in very specific situations.

Going from forward flight at 200+mph to autorotating is tough mathematically and mentally (finding a place to land).

But autorotation is chancy survival wise.

LauraKinCA
LauraKinCA

@majrod  To your autorotate comment, if the tiltrotor was in the "plane" configuration, I assume that they would be able to glide if there was engine problems, but I assume you are more commenting on the "helo" configuration and if the engine failed then that the pilots couldn't adjust the rotors to plane version to glide in lieu of autorotate. Am I understanding the concepts?

majrod
majrod

@LauraKinCA @majrod While I have nothing against the tiltrotor concept and believe like the ehelicopter it could be revolutionary the same may be said for the compound  rotor with pusher prop approach.

Direct comparisons are necessary. There are a series of tradeoffs with whatever you go with.  Fixed wing are the most efficient when it comes to moving stuff but they need a runway.  Helos free one from runways but are relatively slow.  

The tiltrotor is more plane and gives up the ability to autorotate in an emergencey (though you could put ejection seats for the pilot and copilot. Don't know if compound helos can get up to the same speeds as fixed wing but they come close while maintaining the autorotate capability.

It's really key to see what is more efficient,.  Who knows a tiltrotor might take on the attack helo missions while the compound helo lifts troops and cargo.

If you watch the videos you could see how both of these could replace little birds though the S97 is MUCH smaller and probably a better "fit" IF it works.

LauraKinCA
LauraKinCA

@majrod  Well, I'm glad to hear about some of the successes... figures the press wouldn't cover that and only the training difficulties. I guess I didn't realize that the Osprey was only Marine and AFSOC. I hope the Army pursues something like this. Would the mission be mainly rescue or with you including TF160, do you think they would be used like Little Birds but for missions at further distances?