The Future Vertical Lift (FVL) initiative began in 2008. The content on these pages, including the special focus articles of the Jan-Feb 2016 issue of Vertiflite, is intended to provide a reference for industry, the media and the public on the strategy and progress of what will set the rotary-wing capabilities for the United States and its allies for the rest of the 21st Century.
FVL is an ambitious plan to replace all of the US Department of Defense’s helicopters with next-generation rotorcraft. The FVL initiative was born, in part, as a result of increasing concerns by AHS International and its members that DoD was no longer making adequate investments in new rotorcraft programs, and was too focused on upgrades and modernization activities for existing platforms. This reached a crisis point after hundreds of helicopters and lives were lost in the conflicts in Afghanistan and Iraq, and huge gaps were exposed between the legacy rotorcraft fleet’s capabilities and the commanders’ needs for speed, range, altitude, automation, connectivity, reliability and maintainability.
In 2001, AHS catalyzed the foundation of the Congressional Rotorcraft Caucus, which directed the Pentagon to create a Strategic Plan for the Department’s Future Vertical Lift as part of the Fiscal Year (FY) 2009 National Defense Authorization Act.
In 2009, the Secretary of Defense established the FVL Initiative to focus technology development, and the Office of the Secretary of Defense for Acquisition, Technology & Logistics — OSD(AT&L), who was Dr. Ashton Carter at the time — partnered with the Joint Chiefs of Staff’s J-8 Directorate for Future Structure, Resource and Assessment to conduct a Capabilities Based Assessment and develop a Science and Technology (S&T) Plan. Although it took several more years of pressure by AHS, industry and Congress (see sidebar), the Strategic Plan was signed by the Deputy Secretary of Defense and submitted to Congress in October 2012. The Strategic Plan stated:
The Department of Defense will design, develop and field a fleet of next generation air vehicles that will ensure the United States’ dominance in the vertical lift domain throughout the 21st century and beyond. The Department will aggressively pursue the most capable aircraft at the best value by minimizing development, acquisition, and life cycle costs through Joint solutions of common core technologies, architectures, and training, emphasizing the ability to conduct safe, reliable and continuous operations world-wide in all environmental conditions.
FVL/JMR Tech Demo Special Focus (Vertiflite, Jan/Feb 2016)
US Government Presentations at AHS Events
US Army Public Affairs Documents
Our Role in Establishing FVL
AHS advocates for issues of importance to vertical flight and has been very successful over the past quarter century in championing the advancement of rotorcraft technology. AHS has a proud legacy of advocacy work leading up to the establishment of Future Vertical Lift (FVL) initiative and the Joint Multi-Role (JMR) Technology Demonstration program. This microsite serves to provide in depth resources to those who wish to know more about FVL.
In 1998, the AHS Federal City Chapter hosted a key event entitled, “The First Joint Future Rotorcraft Program: Requirements and Technologies.” The meeting marked the beginning of serious discussions concerning future military rotorcraft requirements and programs. The issues raised and discussed would later be embodied in a DoD-wide “Joint Vertical Aircraft Task Force (2004),” whose purpose was “to define a path forward for vertical aircraft science and technology investment, infrastructure, research and development and procurement for manned aviation.” The Society's testimony before the House Armed Services Committee in 2003 and 2005 struck upon numerous themes that would later be incorporated into the FVL Strategic Plan.
AHS promoted the creation of the Congressional Rotorcraft Caucus in 2001, and worked with the Caucus to augment Congressional funding of rotorcraft research at NASA. In 2008, AHS worked closely with the Caucus and our industry members and adivsors, and succeeded in adding Section 255 to the 2009 Defense Authorization Bill. This legislation required a Capabilities Based Assessment on the state of vertical lift, the creation of a technology roadmap, and increased investment in vertical flight science and technology. It also called for the creation within the DoD of a Vertical Flight Joint Program Office for all the service branches. As a result of this Congressional action, the Office of the Secretary of Defense submitted the Report to Congress: A Strategic Plan for United States Department of Defense Vertical Lift Aircraft in 2010.
AHS worked with the non-profit Vertical Lift Consortium (VLC) to sign a letter to the Secretary of Defense, on September 19, 2011, urging the approval of the Future Vertical Lift Strategic Plan itself, which outlined a roadmap for next generation rotorcraft research and development. In December 2011, AHS helped get the Army Aviation Caucus kicked off, advising them of the urgency in investing in advanced rotorcraft technology. The Caucus sent a letter to the Secretary of Defense on February 10, 2012, urging him to sign the FVL Strategic Plan. (The Office of the Secretary of Defense responded on March 21, 2012.)
The FVL Strategic Plan was finally signed and submitted to Congress in October 2012! This was followed in July 2013 by the Future Vertical Lift (FVL) Family of Systems (FoS) Initial Capabilities Document (ICD), validated by a Joint Requirements Oversight Council Memorandum (JROCM).
Additional Funds for FVL
For the 2015 Fiscal Year, AHS was successful in getting $14M of additional Congressional funding for FVL, in concert with the VLC. For FY16, AHS and VLC were again successful in convincing Congress to increase funding for FVL, with $10M added, above and beyond the President's Budget Request.
AHS is continuing to work with the VLC to increase funding in the current Congressional appropriations.