U.S. Army Starts Structures Demo For FLRAA, FARA Upgrades

The U.S. Army has called on industry to dream up structural upgrades for a future generation of combat rotorcraft that will help the airframes to survive battle damage, environmental shocks and operational stresses. 

A solicitation for the Adaptive Resilient Engineered Structures (ARES) program, published on April 20 by the Aviation Applied Technology Directorate (AATD), calls for technologies that could be demonstrated in a relevant operational environment—or a Technology Readiness Level of 6—between fiscal 2023 and 2026. 

The AATD plans to spend $10.75 million over the next five years, starting in September 2021, with $3.2 million awarded on the first three contracts for trade studies. One contractor will then be selected to carry out a $7.55 million, integrated technology demonstration. 

The initial study contracts will define the best candidates to enter the integrated technology demonstration, based on how well they improve performance reliability and versatility of Future Vertical Lift aircraft, such as the Future Attack Reconnaissance Aircraft and the Future Long Range Assault Aircraft. 

The adaptive technologies refer to a broad range of candidates, including using flight control laws to relieve structural loads in-flight and morphing primary structures. Resilient technologies that may be studied includes damage tolerant structures. 

The program’s goals appear to build on over a decade of science and technology investments by the Army, including the Combat Tempered Platform demonstration led by Sikorsky from 2012 to 2016.

Steve Trimble

Steve covers military aviation, missiles and space for the Aviation Week Network, based in Washington DC.