Military Embedded Systems

U.S. Army's Future Vertical Lift (FVL) aircraft expected to fulfill any and all missions


April 13, 2012

Alice Moss

Military Embedded Systems

Not even the world’s best overachiever can be all things to all people, but the U.S. Army’s Future Vertical Lift (FVL) aircraft concept promises to do just that.

FVL is destined to heft more weight, fly faster, and render a smaller logistical footprint than any member of the Army’s present airborne fleet. The in-progress conceptualization of FVL leads down one path: to perform all the missions completed presently by myriad aircraft, including troop movements and sustainment, in addition to reconnaissance and attack missions.

“I see this aircraft being able to do all the missions that we currently do. I see the aircraft that can do it because it can be scaled. It may be a medium variant, something that is the size of maybe a Black Hawk or an Apache is today, that can do the attack mission, or the assault/lift mission. I see the same aircraft scaled smaller that will be able to do the reconnaissance mission, similar to what a Kiowa Warrior does today,” explained U.S. Army Aviation Center of Excellence commander Maj. Gen. Anthony G. Crutchfield in a media statement.

The decision as to whether FVL will be a tilt-rotor or a rotary-wing aircraft is yet to be made.

Looking ahead, the final picture of the future battlefield would include fewer aircraft types, with FVL as preeminent. Such a scenario would lower logistics expenses for the Army: Fewer parts would be required, and equipment maintenance and maintenance personnel could be shared in such a homogenous airborne fleet. Even among different-sized FVLs, the cockpit components, drive train, and engine would be identical and easily swappable.

“Although we have great aircraft today, the best in the world, no matter how much money we invest in these aircraft of today – the aircraft are not going to fly any faster than they fly right now,” Crutchfield continued. “They are not going to be able to carry any more payload than they do right now. They will not be able to reduce any of the logistical footprint [more] than they do right now. That’s what Future Vertical Lift will do. That’s what we see for the Army Aviation force of 2030.”

With the Army at the helm of FVL development, its joint program partners – all the other U.S. military branches – and the Army itself are anticipating FVL’s performance specifications, slated for unveiling this summer.