A number of concepts will be explored as the Ministry of Defence looks to replace existing attack helicopters in the latter part of the 2030s and beyond to “deliver military effect in the land and maritime environments”.

The Ministry of Defence has published a ‘Prior Information Notice’ setting out

“To address the future challenges of operating in complex military environments, there is a need to continue research and development of aviation concepts and technologies as MOD looks forward to replacing a number of existing capabilities in the latter part of the 2030’s and beyond.”The notice adds that Dstl requires a delivery partner to collaborate in the “development and maturation of concepts and technologies for future rotorcraft, and tactical aviation in Contested, Degraded and Operationally-limited (CDO) environments”.Specifics
According to the information notice, in particular, the delivery partner will support Dstl to:• Identify concepts for future rotorcraft systems that will deliver military effect in the land and maritime environments. • Develop and demonstrate the key novel technologies that enable future rotorcraft concepts to be realised. • Underpin the understanding of future concepts and novel technologies through analysis and assessment.

• Build on current research to mature and demonstrate technologies required by future tactical aviation to achieve Freedom of Action and Manoeuvre (FoAM) in a CDO environment. Key areas of potential interest are listed below.

This is an indicative list only and is not exhaustive; it is not a commitment that all of the topic areas listed will be exploited, and some additional topics may be identified as the project matures:

• In-cockpit assistance, autonomy, and automation of crew tasks which supports situational awareness, decision making and threat awareness during all phases of flight and while operating singly or in formations.

• The use of automation of tasks to enable a reduction in the number of crew required to operate future generation aircraft.

• Enablers for multi-domain teaming with aviation platforms to deliver find, attack and lift capabilities into the land and maritime environments.

• Communication concepts that enable timely and effective information exchange between platforms and systems into a fused information picture, thus improving battlespace awareness.

• Development of an evaluation environment that enables the integration and combined benefits of key enabling technologies to be demonstrated in a suitably representative CDO environment.

• Future force mixes & equipment to maximise effectiveness and deliver scalable integrated effects.

• Improved operational efficiency and capability resilience through digital engineering methods.

• Use of autonomy in optimising aviation force effectiveness and the people component of the force.

It is intended to conduct an Early Engagement event in mid-2022, hosted by Dstl, to provide an opportunity for interested Industry organisations to gain further information of the requirement and Dstl expectations prior to the formal tendering stage.

Other Similar Projects

The US Army’s Future Attack Reconnaissance Aircraft (FARA) programme comes to mind and a contender for that project (the Boeing offerig) is shown above as the cover image for this article. According to Air International, FARA falls under the US Army’s Future Vertical Lift project which is led by the service’s Futures Command.

“The competition seeks to design, produce and test a prototype that will fill a capability gap caused by the retirement of the army’s Bell OH-58D Kiowa Warrior light attack/reconnaissance helicopter fleet in 2017 – a gap which is currently being covered by AH-64D/E attack helicopters.”

You can read more on this by clicking here and I recommend that you do as the UK appears to be going in a similar direction, in my humble opinion. Earlier in the year, the US and British armies agreed to pursue a ‘Future Vertical Lift Cooperative Program Feasibility Assessment,’ aiming to ensure interoperability between their rotorcraft aviation forces in future.

With both nations planning to “share information about their future rotorcraft requirements and programs”, it’s not hard to imagine the UK going down the route of FARA and the specifications above appear to suggest something similar will, eventually, be looked at.

George has a degree in Cyber Security from Glasgow Caledonian University and has a keen interest in naval and cyber security matters and has appeared on national radio and television to discuss current events. He also works for the NHS. George is on Twitter at @geoallison
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Charles Verrier
Charles Verrier
10 days ago

The MoD later released a statement saying “It will be a world beating platform supporting thousands of UK jobs – although due to budget constraints, we will only be buying a single airframe”

Defence Chiefs added (through gritted teeth) “This superb new aircraft will deliver enhanced lethality to whatever unit gets to use it this week”

Marked
Marked
10 days ago

And fitted for but not with pretty much everything it needs to save cost.

Levi Goldsteinberg
Levi Goldsteinberg
10 days ago
Reply to  Marked

Buying five rotor blades to share across the fleet

Marked
Marked
10 days ago

I had those down as fitted for but not with.

To be fitted when the shit hits the fan and we need our one airframe to give the impression we are doing something.

Robert Blay.
Robert Blay.
9 days ago
Reply to  Marked

You say this on every single post.

Supportive Bloke
Supportive Bloke
10 days ago

CBE

Means either:-

Can’t Be Everywhere; or

Can Be Everywhere?

Daniele Mandelli
Daniele Mandelli
10 days ago

And it’s “More agile”

Nigel Collins
Nigel Collins
10 days ago

Off-topic, but I thought you might be interested!

PGZ and MBDA sign agreement on Brimstone tank destroyers
19 MAY 2022

https://www.janes.com/defence-news/industry-headlines/latest/pgz-and-mbda-sign-agreement-on-brimstone-tank-destroyers

MBDA_New_concept_of_mobile_air_defense_missile_system_based_on_Boxer_8x8_armored_925_001.jpg
Last edited 10 days ago by Nigel Collins
Daniele Mandelli
Daniele Mandelli
9 days ago
Reply to  Nigel Collins

This subject is starting to rival your Typhoon thing!

Robert Blay.
Robert Blay.
9 days ago

Think he’s got shares £ with MBDA 😆

Nigel Collins
Nigel Collins
9 days ago

Any updates on Brigade numbers and what should be included in them!

Last edited 9 days ago by Nigel Collins
Daniele Mandelli
Daniele Mandelli
9 days ago
Reply to  Nigel Collins

Things like that Brimstone vehicle you keep reading me with! 😉

Klonkie
Klonkie
9 days ago

classic! 😂

Nigel Collins
Nigel Collins
9 days ago
Reply to  Klonkie

A bit like you Klonkie thanking Robert Blay for his informative posts 😂 Welcome to the real world! The 600 plus that the F-35 was supposed to replace by the way. “Let’s fast forward to the 2035/2036-ish timeframe. Is there still a need for that low-cost platform? I think, right now, there is,” he said. “And what does it look like? Do we replace it with another F-16-looking thing? Did the F-35 come down in cost enough that we can buy more of them? Is it something else? Is it unmanned at that point, because we can do things differently?”… Read more »

wpid-img_16200757845058.jpeg
Last edited 9 days ago by Nigel Collins
Geoff Roach
Geoff Roach
10 days ago

What..a whole😉airframe?

nonsense
nonsense
10 days ago

Unnecessary double spending while developing the Mosquito drone…

It makes more sense on a budget to focus more on medium and small drones.

But this isn’t just a future attack helicopter business, it’s a tax plan to maintain Britain’s helicopter industry or create more jobs.

= it may be screwed.

Jonathan
Jonathan
10 days ago
Reply to  nonsense

Just for the record what is actual wrong with the British government investing to ensure the U.K. has the industrial capability to defend itself.

Yes creat more jobs build our own stuff….where does the tax base to pay for our defence come from if we don’t actually create and invest in the high tech industries that will support our nation.

nonsense
nonsense
9 days ago
Reply to  Jonathan

There were prerequisites. A project must succeed or leave a legacy even if the project fails – the legacy must be applicable to other projects. I think this project is what the MOD presents to Airbus – it could be a yeovil, but I don’t think it’s an unmanned helicopter that emphasizes autonomy . so not yeobil Under the premise of Airbus, the MOD’s autonomy requirement standard is to improve survivability when a one-person pilot is operating, shooting, and autonomous operation when launching missiles. There is no explanation as to whether this will proceed like Airbus’ open architecture project in… Read more »

nonsense
nonsense
9 days ago
Reply to  Jonathan

Summary of my words: The project must be an open architecture and the source code must be shared with the MOD. – In this process, whether airbus’ patented technology is used or not is a legal contract with the MOD, so it may not infringe the assets of airbus in a way that the MOD does not use. – Many of the Fly by wire will fall under this, but it is clearly not based on the existing airbus patents; machine learning, information that corresponds to the driver that uses the board when using commercial hardware. MODs should employ and… Read more »

nonsense
nonsense
9 days ago
Reply to  Jonathan

Simply put, it’s easy to invest more in a Mosquito Drone without requiring special skills for a helicopter, which is expensive.

Graham Moore
Graham Moore
7 days ago
Reply to  nonsense

What skills do you need to operate (fly), service and re-arm such a drone?

Marked
Marked
10 days ago

Doesn’t look like it’s got much in common with the US programme. Theirs is for a lighter scout helicopter that would complement the Apache. Ours reads like it would be to replace the Apache itself.

Personally I’d be surprised to see the US programme come to anything, I expect that sort of role to be taken over by unmanned in the future.

Last edited 10 days ago by Marked
Mark
Mark
10 days ago

We should pick Leonardo AW139 built in Yeovil and build the site up and then develop the AW609 tilt rota to a military version for naval use.

Spyinthesky
Spyinthesky
10 days ago
Reply to  Mark

Sadly unless things change the latter cannot be used for military purposes due to licensing.

DaveyB
DaveyB
10 days ago
Reply to  Spyinthesky

Agree, better to develop a civilian version of the Valor. As that has improved mechanicals, namely it doesn’t tilt the whole engine and gearbox like the AW609, just the gearbox. Therefore the aircraft will suffer less FOD ingestion and create less surface erosion when landing/taking off.

I would not be surprised if Bell have not at least computer modelled a larger version of the Valor around the same size as the Osprey. As the Osprey’s design brief placed a number of restrictions on the aircraft. Which decreased its performance ,,especially in the hover.

Mark
Mark
10 days ago
Reply to  Spyinthesky

See link above

Last edited 10 days ago by Mark
Mark
Mark
10 days ago
Reply to  Spyinthesky

Thanks found this link which explains it’s origins.

john
john
10 days ago
Reply to  Mark

Yes you are right but no one in the MOD has the sence to do that I am afriad.

Andy a
Andy a
10 days ago
Reply to  Mark

Can’t the contract for aw609 precludes military or armed use so can’t compete with Uncle Sam

Jonathan
Jonathan
10 days ago
Reply to  Mark

Mark the 139 is a civilian rotor and not the right kit for this. I’m all for supporting our industry and think we should be buying the 149 for meduim lift as it’s a great rotor..but this does offer some good development opportunities and support developing the tec base of our rotor industry.

Mark
Mark
10 days ago
Reply to  Jonathan

Cheers Jonathan my sausage fingers struck again. I did mean the AW149.

lee1
lee1
9 days ago
Reply to  Mark

The AW149. if it is picked will not be built at Yeovil. It will simply be made elsewhere and then assembled at Yeovil…

That does not lead to a factory and workforce that can design and build a next gen Helicopter…

Mark
Mark
9 days ago
Reply to  lee1

Thanks for that info final assembly? Is that industry talk for a lick of paint. Itooks like a short deal for some Blackhawks doesn’t look that bad now untill the Yanks sort out the defiant. And we can get 3 specialist variants for each service. They even have a new pilotless system they are trialing. The Blackhawk maybe an old design like the B52 but it will bring so much commonality with our allies if they can get a good deal on them.

Magnus
Magnus
10 days ago

It is interesting that with all the talk of the MBT being obsolete based on the war in Ukraine there has been almost no talk about the role of attack helicopters in an environment where every Tom, Dick and Harry has a Stinger or equivalent. Or for that matter ATGM! They’ve suffered just as badly as MBTs and the Russians seem reluctant to use them near the front.

Graham Moore
Graham Moore
7 days ago
Reply to  Magnus

I am amazed that poorly designed Russian tanks, ineptly tactically handled by conscripts with low morale is evidence that the tank is obsolete in all armies of the world. Good point about the vulnerability of the attack helicopter to MANPADS. I wonder when anyone will start to talk about the vulnerability of: SP Guns; soldiers in soft-skinned vehicles; dismounted soldiers, aka anyone on the batttlefield.

Magnus
Magnus
6 days ago
Reply to  Graham Moore

To be clear I didn’t say they were obsolete, just commenting on the difference in the conversation. It’s interesting how much stick the MBT has got while Russian helicopters are having just as bad a time and are relegated to being pseudo-artillery well behind the front lines, and this doesn’t seem to be being talked about.

The proliferation of MANPADS seems to have neutered them in Ukraine. Unlike Russia we have plenty of PGM so Western fast jets aren’t as troubled by VSHORAD systems, but it looks like it could really hurt attack helicopters in the future.

Graham Moore
Graham Moore
6 days ago
Reply to  Magnus

Apologies Magnus. So many commentators delight in talking about MBTs as being obsolete.
I hadn’t heard that the Russians had lost a huge number of attack helicopters. They have lost just 5 Mi-24.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_aircraft_losses_during_the_Russo-Ukrainian_War

DaveyB
DaveyB
10 days ago

There has been no rumours or news of an Apache replacement, which strikes me as odd. The reason why I say this, is based on the US Army’s future medium lift program. Both of the contenders have a significant speed and range advantage over the Apache. Which by most of today’s helicopter speeds is quite slow. Therefore if they need escorting in a future scenario, they will have to slow down, a lot! The FARA program I can understand, as its mission is purely scout and reconnaissance. Even it won’t be able to keep up with the SB1 or Valor.… Read more »

Glass Half Full
Glass Half Full
9 days ago
Reply to  DaveyB

Seems using FLRAA as an attack platform, not just for assault, might be the Apache replacement. The reasoning might be that both future attack and future reconnaissance helicopters will be using smart weapons, targeted by infantry, ALE UAS launched from FLRAA or launched from FARA, or with target designation directly by FARA. This avoids the attack platform being as exposed as when using chain guns or rockets in line of sight. This conops would seem to make sense when we see static helicopters bought down by ATGM (let alone manpads) and helicopters launching rockets on ballistic profiles to avoid manpads,… Read more »

Nigel Collins
Nigel Collins
9 days ago
Reply to  DaveyB

I wonder if this will be a future option? “There is the NATO group called Next Generation Rotorcraft Capability discussing what should be the specifications for utility helicopters beyond 2035, and this group has put a strong emphasis on speed,” Louvot said on 18 May. “Speed is the defining factor, and what stands out, with implications for the aircraft architectures, is the request for a cruise speed of 220 kt, which basically says that it cannot be a conventional helicopter – it must be a different architecture.” A model of the Airbus RACER concept, showcasing the pusher-propeller configuration that should… Read more »

74799094-c4ac-42d2-83de-107d688e3241-original.jpeg
Nigel Collins
Nigel Collins
9 days ago
Reply to  Nigel Collins

Or possibly this?

“A new high-speed helicopter being developed by Korean Aerospace Industries (KAI) intends to replace Sikorsky UH-60 Black Hawks in service with the Republic of Korea (RoK) Armed Forces.

Designated as the ‘next-generation high-manoeuvre helicopter’, an industry source told Janes that KAI is conducting research and development of the new air platform.”

https://www.janes.com/defence-news/news-detail/kai-developing-next-generation-high-speed-helicopter

Daveyb
Daveyb
9 days ago
Reply to  Nigel Collins

As per the Sikorsky SB1, it will use brute force to get above 200 knots. What the aircraft will do is reduce the forward pitch of the blades that is used to generate thrust, i.e. pushing the air backwards. Instead it will reduce the blades pitch angle as it goes faster. As the thrust will be generated by the propeller. As the aircraft goes faster the rotors even though at aa lower pitch angle will generate more lift. However, to go faster still they will have to slow down the rotor rpm, as the tip speed enters the transonic zone… Read more »

Nigel Collins
Nigel Collins
9 days ago
Reply to  Daveyb

Many thanks for your detailed analysis Daveyb, there are some fascinating concepts around, and I hope we eventually make the right choice!

Steve M
Steve M
9 days ago
Reply to  Nigel Collins

looks like a dropped RAH-66 Comanche rework

AlexS
AlexS
9 days ago
Reply to  Steve M

RAH 66 had a traditional rear rotor.

DaveyB
DaveyB
8 days ago
Reply to  AlexS

You mean this bad boy.

RAH-66_Comanche_prototype.jpg
AlexS
AlexS
8 days ago
Reply to  DaveyB

Yes

Daveyb
Daveyb
9 days ago
Reply to  Nigel Collins

The Racer which is based on the research and trials of the X3 prototype, is in my opinion, the better and more elegant solution for cracking the 200 knot limit that helicopters in general have. The X3 being a heavily modified Dauphin helicopter, still managed to crack 255 knots in level flight. The Racer should be better, as its a clean sheet design. The aircraft is in all intents and purposes a convertiplane (but not quite!). By this I mean it powers the rotor head conventional during vertical take-offs, landings and in the hover. But in forward flight as soon… Read more »

AlexS
AlexS
9 days ago
Reply to  Daveyb

Nothing prevents putting wings in Sikorski.
For me it is the most logical proposition without cumbersome/more weight change of fuselage geometry for storage like V-280, the Airbus racer have those wings that limit people access to cabin, visibility. I think it is better than the V280 weight wise, but limits its storage.
Instead the Sikorski in theory seems the design that best preserves the size advantage of helicopters over convertiplanes.
To store into a frigate hanger or inside a big cargo plane there is need only of rotor blades being flipped.

DaveyB
DaveyB
8 days ago
Reply to  AlexS

Agree to a point, Sikorsky could add a set of wings. But they would then have to reduce the power to the two co-axial rotor heads. Where the wings will offset the loss of lift from the slower turning rotor blades. They can’t reduce it too much, as co-axials use differential collective pitch movement to control yaw. They would also add a moving tail as this would be used over speeds of 100 knots. The flight control laws would need amending as well. But it is definitely doable and would allow the aircraft to fly faster. The Defiant, I think… Read more »

AlexS
AlexS
8 days ago
Reply to  DaveyB

Nice post DaveB. The Valor concept means that when landing it takes more space since there are 2 rotors footprint – albeit smaller.
Yeah in terms of disadvantage for Sikorski is that the concept prevents the rear ramp.

Coll
Coll
10 days ago

MOD must be high again.

Tom Keane
Tom Keane
10 days ago

Concept my… eye! That ‘model’ came out 15+ years ago as an Action Man vehicle!

Glass Half Full
Glass Half Full
9 days ago

Just an observation that the UK is almost two years into a formal relationship wrt FLRAA and FARA. https://breakingdefense.com/2020/07/us-uk-ink-pact-on-next-gen-aircraft-precision-weapons/

Of note to some concerned about our artillery capabilities might also be the interest in the Precision Strike Missile (PrSM) launched from wheeled HIMARS platforms as part of that same agreement. Which might suggest additional rocket artillery platforms, beyond the current commitments to upgrading existing tracked MLRS platforms. PrSM is expected to have a 500km+ range.

ExcalibursTemplar
ExcalibursTemplar
9 days ago

Can we not just buy these and then modify them for our own needs ?

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yuStvGT1aFA

Andrew
Andrew
9 days ago

Can I make a prediction…..we will spend a few billion on this, then just end up buying what the Americans are replacing the Apache with…

Frank62
Frank62
9 days ago
Reply to  Andrew

Yes I did wonder why we’re not saving our limited resources & going American. Better buying a few more Apaches now to ensure we have enough.

Sceptical Richard
Sceptical Richard
9 days ago

It’ll be another hugely complex, protracted and expensive procurement process only to end up buying whatever the US selects as its Apache replacement. I still remember talking to a Dutch MOD person, when I was at Westland, regarding the original Apache procurement. He said something along the lines of “I see it’s taken you many years and hundreds of personnel to arrive at the same decision that took us a few months and an equally small number of people”.

Pacman27
Pacman27
8 days ago

Nice graphic, total wast of money that we should be investing in something else.

when will the MOD learn

Graham Moore
Graham Moore
7 days ago
Reply to  Pacman27

What should we be investing in?

Pacman27
Pacman27
7 days ago
Reply to  Graham Moore

Why not concentrate on tempest, which we will need every penny for. Or actually use the money wasted on this to buy mk41 cells Or given the likely explosion in drones perhaps we should get our excellent aerospace industry coming up with something to rival the Turkish drones being used in current conflicts. The reality is there are loads more stuff we should invest in where we can reap the benefits of mass. We will never see a return on this vestment ordering 50 helicopters… which we will end up buying from the US Where is Taranis? £180m invested where… Read more »

Graham Moore
Graham Moore
6 days ago
Reply to  Pacman27

Thanks mate.

Graham Moore
Graham Moore
7 days ago

Why do future helicopters still have tail rotors rather than NOTAR designs.

Pacman27
Pacman27
7 days ago
Reply to  Graham Moore

Great point. I didn’t know this existed, having read up on it it does seem to be a good solution for military helicopters in particular

Daveyb
Daveyb
6 days ago
Reply to  Graham Moore

Probably for the same reason why helicopters still use the traditional main rotor and tail rotor configuration, rather than a co-axial one, even if it’s shown that a co-axial one is more efficient despite the increased complexity. The NOTAR MD500 was shown at Farnborough years ago. I remember watching it, but couldn’t hear it. Until it started beating up the flight line. It seemed to be just as aerobatic as the standard 500, just a heck of a lot quieter. This is what surprises me, the 160th SOAR use the MH500 Little Bird. They use for covert insertions in urban… Read more »

WillDbeest
WillDbeest
7 days ago

The MOD would be better off exploring where the money for this would come from and then buying American.

SD67
SD67
3 days ago

Just what we need – more research into esoteric new concepts! Wow.

Meanwhile Yeovil is running out of work and no one has actually ordered the new medium copter yet