The US Army has awarded a technology investment agreement to the Boeing-Sikorsky Aircraft team to support the joint multi-role (JMR) science and technology programme.
Agreed by the Army Aviation Applied Technology Directorate (AATD), the contract requires the team to support the development of the joint common architecture (JCA) standard.
The team is providing the SB-1 Defiant for the programme, which supports the army's future vertical-lift (FVL) initiative to deliver the next generation of vertical-lift utility and attack aircraft.
Sikorsky Defense Systems & Services president Samir Mehta said the army considers the JCA to be the 'digital backbone' through which mission systems will be seamlessly integrated into the FVL system's design.
"This is a key component of FVL, and we look forward to providing solutions to support the army's efforts. Our solution will help bring efficiency to future rotorcraft platforms," Mehta said.
Boeing Vertical Lift programmes vice-president and general manager David Koopersmith said: "As partners in the JCA and the JMR technology demonstrator programme, our team combines the best that industry has to offer."
SB-1 Defiant is based on Sikorsky's X2 technology rotorcraft design, and includes counter-rotating co-axial main rotors, a pusher propeller and advanced fly-by-wire system.
The army is expected to shortlist one of four teams by the end of the month. They will then proceed with the development of demonstration aircraft, scheduled to fly in 2017.
The helicopters developed under the programme are expected to feature enhanced avionics, electronics, range, speed, propulsion, survivability and payload capacities, and will replace the army's existing UH-60 Black Hawk, AH-64 Apache and CH-47 Chinook helicopters.
In addition, from 2030 the helicopters will replace similar aircraft used by the navy, air force and marine corps.
Image: An artistic impression of the US Army's future joint multi-role configuration helicopter. Photo: courtesy of AMRDEC.