JUST IN: Army sees role of next-gen aircraft in Indo-Pacific
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The military is confident its family of new rotorcraft – which includes a reconnaissance helicopter and a replacement for the aging Black Hawk – will have a place in future Indo-Pacific operations, a service chief said Aug. 24. .
The aircraft will bring advanced Army aviation capabilities that far exceed current systems, bolstering the service’s presence and what it can accomplish in the region’s vast waters, Maj. Gen. Walter said. Rugen, director of the future vertical lifting cross-functional team. spearheading efforts.
“These advanced rotorcraft configurations can do that — it’s really an expedition capability — whereas the current fleet can’t,” Rugen said in a discussion hosted by the Center for Strategic and International Studies.
Future Vertical Lift is one of the Army’s top modernization priorities as the services move away from conflict in the Middle East and toward future competition with China and Russia. On the program, the future attack reconnaissance aircraft – or FARA – to replace the OH-58 Kiowa reconnaissance helicopter, as well as the future long-haul assault aircraft – or FLRAA – to replace the utility helicopter UH-60 Black Hawk.
FARA and FLRAA are still under development, with plans to field the aircraft by 2028 and 2030 respectively. But their expected flight speed, range and endurance make them viable for operations over water over large distances, Rugen said.
Additionally, “they can operate out of a…medium range ballistic missile and then get closer to that distance and hit or help someone when needed,” he said. “They can do it again very efficiently and quickly.”
Improving the army’s fleet will give combatant commands more options for operations in the Indo-Pacific in conjunction with aircraft from other services, he added.
The Army’s FVL programs can bring additional flexibility to operations in the region, with the service emphasizing a modular open systems approach, Rugen said. The strategy gives the military the ability to quickly integrate different mission systems onto its aircraft, including communications, navigation, lethality and electronic warfare packages, he said.
With this, commanders and joint forces will be able to tailor aircraft capabilities to mission requirements, he added.
“As we fight as a joint force, I don’t think you want to go just up, or just down, or just sea, or just air. You want multiple areas…and you want to present multiple dilemmas to any enemy,” he said.
The position of military aviation in the Indo-Pacific must begin with building trust with nations in the region, Rugen said. Initially, this might look like conducting humanitarian and disaster relief missions.
“These advanced rotorcraft configurations can make it happen with capabilities that make a difference,” he said.
Topics: Aviation, Army News, International