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Boeing and Sikorsky are protesting the Army’s FLRAA decision to use the Bell V-280 Tiltrotor

Sikorsky-Boeing delivers Defiant X proposal to US Army

ARLINGTON, Va., Dec. 28, 2022 — Sikorsky, a Lockheed Martin company, filed a formal protest today asking the U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) to review the U.S. Army’s decision on the Future Long-Range Assault Aircraft (FLRAA) contract.

Meet the Bell 360, the latest rival to the Sikorsky Raider X.(Opens in a new browser tab)

Boeing supports the protest filed by our Team DEFIANT partner, asking the GAO to review the Army’s decision.

Based on a thorough review of the information and feedback provided by the Army, Lockheed Martin Sikorsky, on behalf of Team DEFIANT, is challenging the FLRAA decision. The data and discussions lead us to believe the proposals were not consistently evaluated to deliver the best value in the interest of the Army, our Soldiers and American taxpayers. The critical importance of the FLRAA mission to the Army and our nation requires the most capable, affordable, and lowest-risk solution. We remain confident DEFIANT X is the transformational aircraft the Army requires to accomplish its complex missions today and well into the future.

The Army’s decision to adopt the Bell V-280 Tiltrotor, which will eventually replace the Black Hawk, has drawn criticism from Boeing and Sikorsky.

The Bell V-280 Valor and the Sikorsky-Boeing SB>1 DEFIANT aircraft are being developed for the U.S. military as part of the  Future Long-Range Assault Aircraft program. Tiltrotor aircraft are able to take off and land vertically like helicopters, but also have the ability to tilt their rotors to fly horizontally like fixed-wing aircraft.

The Bell V-280 Valor is being developed by Bell Textron Inc., a major American aerospace manufacturer, as a joint multirole aircraft for the U.S. Army. It is designed to be able to transport troops and cargo, as well as conduct reconnaissance and other missions. The V-280 has a cruising speed of 280 knots (320 mph) and a range of over 2,100 nautical miles (2,400 miles). It is expected to be operational by the mid-2020s.

US Army and Sikorsky agree on a $2.3 billion purchase of Black Hawk helicopters(Opens in a new browser tab)

Defiant On March 21, 2019, it had its maiden flight. It is a compound helicopter with stiff coaxial rotors and two Honeywell T55 turboshaft engines. This helicopter is a little bit taller than the present Black Hawk and lacks a tail rotor, but it still has a suitable engine that provides the aircraft with forward power, allowing it to reach a top speed of 460 km/h.

The SB>1 DEFIANT is being developed by Sikorsky, a subsidiary of Lockheed Martin, and Boeing as a high-speed, long-range helicopter for the U.S. Army. It is designed to be able to reach speeds of up to 280 knots (320 mph) and has a range of over 1,000 nautical miles (1,150 miles).

Both the V-280 and the DEFIANT are being developed as part of the U.S. military’s efforts to modernize its vertical lift capabilities and meet the evolving needs of future conflicts. They are expected to offer significant improvements in speed, range, and payload capacity over current helicopter platforms.

The army’s decision to select the V280 aircraft over the Defiant has upset Boeing and Sikorsky. The decision to test the helicopter for taking up the US Army is currently being challenged. Both aircraft have unique capabilities, with the Defiant helicopter being similar to that even while the V280 is a tilt-rotor that provides vertical lift and forward motions.

 

 

He is an aviation journalist and the founder of Jetline Marvel. Dawal gained a comprehensive understanding of the commercial aviation industry.  He has worked in a range of roles for more than 9 years in the aviation and aerospace industry. He has written more than 1700 articles in the aerospace industry. When he was 19 years old, he received a national award for his general innovations and holds the patent. He completed two postgraduate degrees simultaneously, one in Aerospace and the other in Management. Additionally, he authored nearly six textbooks on aviation and aerospace tailored for students in various educational institutions. jetlinem4(at)gmail.com

Aerospace

Pakistan’s Ambitious Plan to Acquire and Produce Chinese FC-31 Stealth Fighter

Pakistan’s Ambitious Plan to Acquire and Produce Chinese FC-31 Stealth Fighter

Pakistan is embarking on an ambitious endeavor to bolster its air defense capabilities with the acquisition and potential local production of the Chinese FC-31 stealth fighter jet.

Talks are reportedly underway between the Pakistan Air Force (PAF) and the Shenyang Aircraft Corporation, the developer of the FC-31, signaling a significant leap forward for Pakistan’s military aviation prowess.

The FC-31, a mid-sized, twin-engine fifth-generation fighter, promises advanced air combat capabilities, including stealth technology that surpasses anything currently in the PAF‘s fleet. With plans to retire the JF-17 production line by 2030, the FC-31 could emerge as the new flagship aircraft, offering unmatched performance and versatility.

Experts speculate that Pakistan’s interest in the FC-31 could also signal broader implications for the international market. As China develops both land and carrier versions of the FC-31, analysts foresee it becoming a cost-effective alternative to pricier options like the F-35, potentially challenging the dominance of the US aerospace industry and reshaping global strategic rivalries.

Adding complexity to the deal is China’s push for the WS-13 engine, previously rejected for the JF-17 but now under consideration for both the FC-31 and future JF-17 variants. Engine standardization could streamline logistical and maintenance processes for the PAF, further enhancing the appeal of the FC-31.

While negotiations continue, the success of the FC-31 acquisition and local production hinges on several factors, including the outcome of the WS-13 engine discussions. Pakistan’s pursuit of the FC-31 comes amidst its eagerness to replace its aging fleet, with previous attempts to upgrade its F-16s by the United States due to geopolitical pressures.

Amidst these developments, Pakistan previous interest in the Turkish-made Kaan fifth-generation fighter underscores its eagerness to replace its aging fleet. Despite previous attempts to secure upgrades for its F-16s from the United States, Pakistan’s quest for advanced aerial capabilities has led it to explore alternative avenues, with the FC-31 emerging as a promising contender in its pursuit of air superiority.

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Aerospace

Airbus presents new Wingman concept at ILA Berlin Airshow

Airbus presents new Wingman concept at ILA Berlin Airshow

At the prestigious ILA aerospace trade show in Berlin, Airbus Defence and Space made waves by introducing its pioneering Wingman concept, marking a significant leap forward in military aviation technology.

Teaming up with Helsing, Europe’s leading defense AI and software company, Airbus showcased a framework cooperation agreement aimed at revolutionizing the realm of artificial intelligence (AI) in defense.

Airbus Wingman

The Wingman concept represents a paradigm shift in aerial warfare, introducing unmanned platforms equipped with advanced AI capabilities to augment the capabilities of manned combat aircraft. Pilots in command aircraft such as the Eurofighter command these autonomous drones, positioning them to undertake high-risk mission tasks that would traditionally pose a significant threat to manned-only aircraft.

Central to the Wingman concept is Manned-Unmanned Teaming, wherein manned aircraft serve as “command fighters,” retaining ultimate control over mission decisions while delegating tactical tasks to unmanned systems. This synergistic collaboration promises to enhance mission flexibility, increase combat mass, and minimize risk exposure for pilots, thereby bolstering overall operational effectiveness.

The capabilities of the Wingman extend across a diverse spectrum of mission profiles, ranging from reconnaissance and target jamming to precision strikes against both ground and aerial targets. Equipped with advanced sensors, connectivity solutions, and a diverse array of armaments, the Wingman stands poised to redefine the operational landscape of modern air forces.

While the Wingman model showcased at ILA Berlin represents the pinnacle of current technological innovation, it also serves as a catalyst for future design iterations. As with any pioneering concept, refinement and evolution are inevitable, with each generation of the Wingman poised to push the boundaries of aerial warfare even further.

MQ-28 Ghost Bat

Boeing introduced the MQ-28 Ghost Bat, an unmanned combat aerial vehicle (UCAV), which made its maiden flight in February 2021. Developed by Boeing Australia, the MQ-28 leverages artificial intelligence to serve as a force multiplier for manned fighter jets.

The Ghost Bat is engineered to operate in tandem with existing military aircraft, enhancing and extending the capabilities of airborne missions. This cost-effective UCAV is designed to work as an intelligent teammate, complementing and amplifying the effectiveness of manned operations in various mission profiles.

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Aerospace

Take First Glimpse of USAF B-21 Raider, Latest Nuclear Stealth Bomber

Take First Glimpse of USAF B-21 Raider, Latest Nuclear Stealth Bomber
Image:USAF

The United States Air Force (USAF) has unveiled the first photographs of the Northrop Grumman B-21 Raider bomber in flight.

These images were captured during test flights conducted by the B-21 Combined Test Force at Edwards Air Force Base, marking a significant milestone in the development of this sixth-generation aircraft.

Currently undergoing flight tests in California, the B-21 Raider represents the next generation of stealth bombers. With an estimated cost of around $700 million per aircraft, the B-21 Raider is poised to become a crucial component of the USAF’s arsenal for conventional Long Range Strike missions.

According to Air Force briefings, the B-21 Raider will form part of a comprehensive family of systems, encompassing Intelligence, Surveillance, and Reconnaissance capabilities, electronic warfare, communication systems, and more. Notably, the bomber will be nuclear-capable and adaptable for both manned and unmanned operations.

It boasts the flexibility to deploy a wide array of stand-off and direct-attack munitions, ensuring versatility in various combat scenarios. One of the B-21’s distinguishing features is its extensive integration of digital technology, as highlighted in discussions held during a Senate Armed Services Committee hearing.

Designed with an open systems architecture, the B-21 Raider is built to swiftly incorporate emerging technologies, ensuring its effectiveness against evolving threats over time. The B-21 Raider is slated to replace the aging B-1 Lancer and B-2 Spirit bombers, bolstering US national security objectives and providing reassurance to allies and partners worldwide.

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