The U.S. Army’s helicopter fleet is getting a bit stale these days, so the government is looking at a handful of cutting-edge designs that could be the military aircraft of the future.
Though they’re still working up to something as sleek and sci-fi-inspired as the piece of Army concept art above, the military has contracted Sikorsky-Boeing and Bell Helicopter to make two prototype choppers that can hopefully be the next step toward the Halo-esque design like the one up top.
First up, we have the SB-1 Defiant design from Sikorsky-Boeing. As Popular Science notes, this pitch features a pusher propeller, which allows the chopper to fly faster than your typical helicopter design. It's very svelte, and we especially like the nifty fin design on the back.
Bell Helicopter has put together the V-280 Valor, which would ideally come in three different versions depending on the need. The first would be designed to carry soldiers and supplies; the second could serve as a medical craft; and the third would be a legit attack chopper loaded with missiles and weapons. This design almost looks like an airplane hybrid, with wide wings, each hosting a propeller.
The initiative to develop the helicopter of the future is called the Joint Multi-Role Technology Demonstrator/Future Vertical Lift (JMR TD), and the hope is to nail down a design so universal it could be used by the Army, the Navy and even NASA. The Army’s deputy program director of science and technology Ned Chase said the hope is to start from scratch and incorporate everything we’ve learned about aviation over the past several decades (and across the various agencies of government, military and acronyms) into a wholly new design:
“Let's figure out what we want this new aircraft to do, and let's go out and prove that we have the technologies available to meet those requirements. That's what we're doing with JMR TD. The one thing that we've not done in quite a long time was demonstrate that we can build an aircraft from scratch that incorporates the individual technologies that we've been working on the past 25 years. We have the capacity across AMRDEC to populate the aircraft with the right components--engines, rotors, structures, flight controls. We want to put together a roadmap to develop the radios, weapons, sensors and survivability equipment by drawing from RDECOM in preparation for FVL. We take their products and integrate them onto the platform itself.”
Check out the competing designs below and let us know which one you think should win.