MANASSAS, Va. — is considering proposing ’s X3 high-speed helicopter for the U.S. Army’s Joint Multi Role (JMR) advanced rotorcraft technology demonstration.
The proof-of-concept X3 arrived in the Washington area July 23 on the final leg of its U.S. tour, with a flight demonstration for the press, embassy officials andemployees at Manassas regional airport in Virginia.
The compound helicopter, which has wing-mounted propellers in addition to the main rotor, has reached 232 kt. in level flight, 50% faster than conventional helicopters, using only 80% of available power, says Marc Paganini, president and CEO of American Eurocopter.
The JMR program is planned to demonstrate technology for the Pentagon’s Future Vertical Lift (FVL) initiative to replace current helicopters with a family of advanced rotorcraft sharing common technology.
First to be replaced, beginning in 2030 under Army plans, would be theBlack Hawk, with a medium utility FVL rotorcraft.
“We are very, very interested in FVL,” says Steve Mundt, vice president of business development for EADS North America. “Stay tuned as the government completes its paperwork.”
AVX Aircraft, Bell, Boeing, and a government team are completing concept design and analysis studies for the medium utility FVL, which will frame the requirements for one or more JMR demonstrators planned to fly in 2017.
The “paperwork” is expected “to be done by December, then the Army will put out a fact-based BAA [broad area announcement] with the performance criteria that we need to look at [for the demonstrator],” Mundt says.
Increased speed and range are among the attributes sought for the FVL, and the X3 “is suited to missions requiring high speed, long transit and hover flight,” Paganini says.
Eurocopter’s goal is to increase speed 50% with a maximum increase in life-cycle cost of 25%, while retaining the low-speed maneuverability of a helicopter.
The proof-of-concept X3 was built using parts of other Eurocopter products, including an EC155 airframe and main rotor,gearbox and engines. While the demonstrator weighs 11,500 lb., for a production rotorcraft the concept is scalable from 13,000 lb. to “much more” than 31,000 lb., Mundt says. Today’s UH-60M weighs 22,000 lb.
The FVL initiative also envisions replacing theApache as well as lighter and heavier rotorcraft, including eventually the Osprey tiltrotor.
The X3 concept is suited to the attack mission, Mundt says, because of its ability to accelerate and decelerate in level flight, point the nose up or down in the hover and to control speed in a dive using the propellers.
“Do we have an opportunity to compete in JMR/FVL? I think this can do it,” he says.