Bell has chosen GE Aerospace to work on the development of digital systems for the Future Long Range Assault Aircraft, Bell announced today.
The Army selected Bell to produce FLRAA, the eventual replacement for the UH-60 Black Hawk helicopter, last December. However, a protest from competing bidder Sikorsky temporarily halted the program until April when the Government Accountability Office denied the protest.
According to Bell, GEO Aerospace will work to develop a Common Open Architecture Digital Backbone, as well as a voice and data recorder and health awareness system. GE Aerospace’s role will involve creating an “open, scalable, high-speed data infrastructure” that is compatible with the Army’s Modular Open Systems Approach.
The voice and data recorder analyzes flight and voice data, while the health awareness system facilitates predictive maintenance, according to Bell. The digital backbone builds on a previous Army Mission System Architecture Demonstration that “demonstrated the capability to rapidly integrate multiple operationally relevant sensors and equipment packages aligned to government-defined use cases.”
Ryan Ehinger, the Bell’s senior vice president and program director for FLRAA, said in a statement that the addition of GE Aerospace is a “foundational effort to improve weapon system capability and affordability for the Army by ensuring architectural alignment for integration of new technology.”
Army officials have said that even after FLRAA aircraft go into service in 2030, Black Hawks will continue to operate until around 2060. FLRAA is expected to enter milestone B in the third quarter of fiscal year 2024.