FVL Updates Help Fuel Modernization Across U.S. Military

170130-N-RM689-608 PACIFIC OCEAN (Jan. 30, 2017) An MH-60R Sea Hawk helicopter attached to Helicopter Maritime Strike Squadron 78 lifts pallets off the flight deck of Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS Wayne E. Meyer (DDG 108) during a practice exercise for a future vertical replenishment-at-sea. Wayne E. Meyer is on a regularly scheduled Western Pacific deployment with the Carl Vinson Carrier Strike Group as part of the U.S. Pacific Fleet-led initiative to extend the command and control functions of U.S. 3rd Fleet into the Indo-Asia-Pacific region. U.S. Navy aircraft carrier strike groups have patrolled the Indo-Asia-Pacific regularly and routinely for more than 70 years. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Kelsey L. Adams/Released)

Future Vertical Lift (FVL) aircraft represent one of the next great steps forward for the U.S. military. Utilizing next-generation technology, these aircraft will become the new standard of mobilization. FVL and the other key comments of the U.S. military modernization effort represents a long-held desire to augment and improve existing military systems. This is a critical component of the ongoing military modernization initiative.

While there is still a lot of time and work between these trials and demos and their use on the battlespace, military modernization efforts have already begun to show progress. FVL aircraft are one such example of that newly demonstrated technology and its progress showcases the ongoing success of the public-private partnership that drives success in the defense space.

With many exciting modernization efforts on the horizon, The Modern Battlespace looked around the defense space for the latest news on FVL aircraft and what it means for priorities for the U.S. Army and the Department of Defense at large. Here is what some experts in the arena had to share:


U.S. Army Plans Major Aviation Exercise Ahead of Project Convergence

The U.S. Army is conducting additional trials of FVL aircraft in the “intricate, aviation focused exercise called EDGE21,” according to Defense News. EDGE21, an acronym for Experimental Demonstration Gateway Exercise, will serve as one of the first of major military modernization efforts. EDGE21 will combine testing of the Army’s FVL aircraft along with advanced space, aviation, and network capabilities to showcase a more tech-savvy approach to Indo-Pacific operation.

EDGE21 will test many aspects that have defined recent modernization efforts: the integration of information between multiple domains, testing new technology and its ability, and demonstrating the viability of operating in the “lower-tier of the air domain.” Typically avoided for a host of reasons, EDGE21 hopes to prove that the lower airspace is a viable operations area, opening up many creative possibilities for the defense industry.

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U.S. Army Nearing End of FTUAS Assessment Period

U.S. Army is rapidly approaching the end of the Future Tactical Unmanned Aerial System (FTUAS) assessment period, reported Janes. The aircraft, all part of the FVL aircraft campaign, are completing the replacement for the currently fielded RQ-7B Shadow in ground maneuver brigade combat teams. The FTUAS are all required to be low to medium altitude aircraft, with next generation technology and communication systems.

The end of the assessment period means that the aircraft will enter a flight demonstration at Leyte West Airfield in Fort Benning, Georgia. This demonstration will showcase the flight capabilities of each entrant, before finalizing on which will be adopted by the military. The aircraft all boast significant improvements to the current system, and once chosen, the winner will play a role in the modernization of the military.

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Army Leaders Bracing for Budget Reductions

With the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic slowing the U.S. economy, many in the Department of Defense leadership are preparing for budget cuts, reported National Defense. Lt. Gen. James Pasquarette noted that the military is prepared to “sacrifice near-term readiness for modernization” if the budget cuts are necessary. While in the past DoD leadership has prioritized near-term readiness, Pasquarette said that it is different this time.

Several trends show that the U.S. military’s modernization efforts will be considered especially critical, according to Pasquarette. Recent successful demonstrations of FVL aircraft and other systems, have bolstered the calls to continue on the path towards modernization. In addition, the rise of threats posed by advanced adversaries such as China has been seen as “a strong motivator” to keep working towards a more modern U.S. military.

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Navy May Look to Army’s Future Vertical Lift Program for Seahawk Replacement

One of the core components of the U.S. military’s modernization efforts is the cross-domain integration between the branches. A prime example of that communication is the recent moves by the U.S. Navy to join the U.S. Army’s FVL program. The Navy wants to replace its MH-60 Seahawk before it reaches its retirement age in 2030, and the FVL program may provide its replacement reported Military.com.

There are many similarities between the requests from both the Navy and Army and the integration of the two into one unified FVL system realizes a key part of the modernization effort. The Navy’s request for information comes at a time when cross domain capabilities are becoming more important, but they stress that the replacement will not come easily or lightly. “[The MH60 and the MQ-8] are the pillars of the Naval Helicopter Concept of Operations for the 21st century,” and its replacement must be one of the most capable FVLs possible.

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