The Army announced today Bell and Sikorsky have been awarded contracts for the competitive demonstration and risk-reduction phase of the Future Long Range Assault Aircraft, a part of the service’s future vertical lift modernization priority.
According to a March 16 Army press release, the program executive office for aviation awarded the CDRR contracts through other transaction authority agreements for FLRAA, the future replacement for the UH-60 Black Hawk helicopter.
The CDRR phase will extend over two years and will “include initial conceptual designs, requirements feasibility and trade studies using model based systems engineering,” according to the release. A downselect for FLRAA is scheduled for 2022.
On a call with reporters on March 17, Col. David Phillips, project manager for FLRAA, said Sikorsky's contract was worth $97 million while Bell's contract was $84 million. Both contracts extend through the two-year CDRR phase.
"Ultimately, this information and industry feedback are vital to understanding the performance, cost, affordability, schedule risks and trades needed to successfully execute the FLRAA program," Patrick Mason, program executive officer for aviation, said in a statement.
Bell flew its FLRAA prototype, the V-280 Valor, earlier this year at the company’s flight research center in Arlington, TX. The aircraft boasts autonomous flying capabilities and reaches speeds up to 300 knots.
“This is an important milestone in the history of Bell and Army aviation,” Keith Flail, vice president for advanced vertical lift systems at Bell, said in a statement. “The next phase is an opportunity for this team to build on the success of the last six years and continue to bring the proof that we can provide transformative capabilities to our Army in line with their stated goal of 2030.”
Sikorsky’s prototype, the SB-1 Defiant, had its first public flying demo last month in West Palm Beach, FL. The 23,000-pound aircraft can reach speeds up to 200 knots and has “virtually the same operating footprint” as the UH-60, according to Jay Macklin, Sikorsky’s business development director for Future Vertical Lift.
The Sikorsky-Boeing team said in a statement it is "confident we will deliver a producible FLRAA aircraft that is survivable, affordable, sustainable and provides Army aviators strategic day one battlefield advantages."
According to the release, PEO Aviation will be working with industry in the digital engineering environment ahead of downselecting for the program of record, which is slated to be chosen in 2022, to “ensure the Army understands the performance, cost and schedule risks, requirement trades and affordability needed to achieve a first unit equipped in [fiscal year] 2030.”
Army spokeswoman Sarah Tate told Inside Defense last month the CDRR “will inform the refinement of the capability requirements, system performance specification and identify risk areas.”