U.S. Army aviation leaders offered details Wednesday about recent solicitations to industry designed to advance the attack-reconnaissance and advanced drone aircraft programs for the service's ambitious Future Vertical Lift effort.
"We had a very good week last week in dropping two [requests for proposal]. ... The big one for us was the solicitation on the Future Attack Reconnaissance Aircraft," Brig. Gen. Wally Rugen, director of the Future Vertical Lift, Cross Functional Team, told an audience at the 2018 Association of the United States Army Annual Meeting and Exposition.
Future Vertical Lift, or FVL, is the Army's third modernization priority, intended to field a new generation of helicopters such as the Future Long Range Assault Aircraft to replace the UH-60 Black Hawk, as well as the Future Attack Reconnaissance Aircraft (FARA), by 2028.
The FARA will be designed to take targeting information from FVL's Advanced Unmanned Aerial System and coordinate "lethal effects" such as long-range precision fires to open gaps into a contested airspace, Rugen said.
Released Oct. 3, the RFP for the FARA asks industry to submit proposals for competitive prototypes.
"All the offerors will basically get us their designs by 18 December; we will down-select up to six in June and, in 2020, we will down-select to two," Rugen said.
The Army plans to conduct a fly-off event in the first quarter of fiscal 2023 to select a winner, he added. "It's a tremendous capability ... that we think is going to be the cornerstone for our close combat control of contested airspace."
The service also released a Sept. 28 Future Tactical Unmanned Aerial Systems RFP for industry to present platforms to conduct demonstrations for Forces Command units.
"Future Tactical UAS is really something that we have been asking for; it's a [Brigade Combat Team]-oriented UAS," said Brig. Gen. Thomas Todd III, commander of Program Executive Office Aviation. "It isn't necessarily a replacement for the [RQ-7] Shadow, but it could be, depending on how it goes with industry ... so we are ready to see what you've got."
The Army plans to pick three vendors to provide "future tactical UAS platforms to FORCOM units, and they are going to go and basically demonstrate their capabilities," Rugen said, adding that the Army is looking for features such as lower noise signature and better transportability.
The service plans to "do a fly-off in the next couple of months and down-select in February," he said. FORCOM units will then fly them for a year in 2020.
The results of the demonstrations will inform future requirements for the FVL's Advanced UAS, Rugen said. "If it's something we really, really like, we may move forward with it."
-- Matthew Cox can be reached at email@example.com.