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Army needs to upgrade helicopter fleet with Future Vertical Lift technologies | OPINION

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Contributed commentary by Doug Englen, Military Sales & Strategy Manager, Advanced Vertical Lift Systems Sales and Strategy, Bell:

This upcoming Week of the Eagles will be a special one, with the 101st Airborne Division celebrating 80 years of service. As the entire community of the 101st and Fort Campbell comes together to commemorate the division’s bravery and unwavering commitment to the nation, it is important that we acknowledge the need to ensure our troops have the capabilities necessary for the dynamic battlefields of today and the future.

Current events overseas illustrate the serious threat posed by great power competition. Preparing soldiers for the future fight requires modernized weapons systems.

Army aviation overmatch against peer competitors has been significantly eroded. Transformative aviation capability is required to maintain overmatch and deter adversaries. With Army modernization, commanders will have the opportunity to bring in next-generation capabilities that enable them to meet the challenges of Multi-Domain Operations (MDO). Future Vertical Lift (FVL) serves as a blueprint for Army modernization and is the key to transforming Army aviation to better support every warfighter.

In order to effectively compete with adversaries in a near-peer conflict and execute MDO, warfighters require significantly greater speed, reach, range and lethality. The next-generation weapons systems developed under FVL’s Future Long-Range Assault Aircraft (FLRAA) and Future Attack Reconnaissance Aircraft (FARA) programs deliver these critical capabilities and ensure that aviators are equipped to support the Joint-Force. These low-risk platforms not only go farther and faster than the current fleet, but they also possess advanced mission systems that will make all the difference in giving leaders the operational flexibility to create dilemmas for the enemy in multi-domain operations. As we witness the growth of great power competition, it is evident that these next-generation capabilities are essential to maintaining overmatch.

Opting to rely on incremental upgrades to the current fleet has limitations and has proven to be costly. The clean sheet designs developed for the respective FLRAA and FARA programs leverage technology and innovative approaches that were unavailable during initial development and fielding to the current fleet decades ago. These weapons systems are purpose-built to deliver the Army the transformative capabilities it requires for joint-all domain operations. These weapons systems are not only relevant for today’s fight, but, through the use of a modular open systems approach, they are designed to maintain a decisive growth advantage for Army aviation for decades to come.

As we celebrate the Week of the Eagles, honoring the legacy of the 101st Airborne Division and those who have served, both past and present, we should look to the future. It is crucial that the brave men and women serving this nation have proven, innovative and transformative capabilities that will enable them to deter adversaries or decisively defeat any competitor. Future Vertical Lift will deliver low-risk and reliable next-generation aircraft that will support our soldiers on the battlefields of today and tomorrow.

Doug Englen

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