Future Vertical Lift

AVX JMR image (150 px tall) Bell JMR image (150 px tall) Karem JMR image (150 px tall) Sikorsky JMR image (150 px tall)

FVL Overview

The Future Vertical Lift (FVL) initiative began in 2008. The content posted here, including the special focus articles of the Jan-Feb 2016 issue of Vertiflite (linked below), 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.

Latest Updates on FVL:

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 the Vertical Flight Society 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.

As a result of VFS lobbying efforts, the Fiscal Year (FY) 2009 National Defense Authorization Act directed the Pentagon to develop a Strategic Plan for the Future Vertical Lift.

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 VFS, 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.

VFS Presentations and Commentary Future Attack Reconnaissance Aircraft (FARA) & Future Long-Range Assault Aircraft (FLRAA) US Army FVL Modernization Priority FVL/JMR Tech Demo Special Focus (Vertiflite, Jan/Feb 2016) FVL/JMR Updates

FVL Documents

US Government Presentations at AHS/VFS Events US Army Public Affairs Documents

FVL Capitol HillOur Role in Establishing FVL

The Vertical Flight Society 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. VFS 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.

In 1998, the Society's 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 2004 struck upon numerous themes that would later be incorporated into the FVL Strategic Plan.

The Society 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, VFS worked closely with the Caucus and our industry members and advisors. Congress added Section 255 (pdf) to the 2009 Defense Authorization Bill, which 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.

VFS 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, VFS 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), and in August 2016, the Army signed the Initial Capability Refinement Document (ICRD) for Capability Set 3.

$65M in Additional Funds for FVL

Over the past five years, VFS has been successful in getting an average of 12% increase in Congressional funding for FVL, in concert with the VLC, for a total of more than $65M:

  • FY15: $14M
  • FY16: $10M
  • FY17: $11M
  • FY18: $10M (plus an additional $5M for other rotorcraft S&T)
  • FY19: $20M (plus an additional $75M for FARA)

The Vertical Flight Society is continuing to work with the VLC and our member companies to increase funding in the current Congressional appropriations.