US Army Secretary Ryan D. McCarthy said in a press briefing the UK was interested in how it could replace the Chinook heavy-left helicopter with the in-development Future Long-Range Assault Aircraft in the long-term.
His comments came as this week the US and UK signed a joint modernisation agreement covering the development of long-range precision fires, networks and Future Vertical Lift capabilities of both countries’ armies.
Speaking during a telephone briefing McCarthy sketched out further details of the collaboration including the UK’s interest in the Future Long-Range Assault Aircraft (FLRAA).
Commenting on the possibility of the UK eventually replacing the Chinook, McCarthy said: “On the lift side, they are right-sizing their portfolio of lift platforms today. So they’re on the cusp of another procurement of CH-47 Chinooks, but they’re also looking at, over the long term, what would ultimately be the replacement platform, potentially a long-range assault aircraft.”
FLRAA is one of a number of Future Vertical Lift efforts underway by the US Army, the goal of the programme being to develop a successor to the UH-60 Blackhawk. Prototype FLRAA candidates include the Sikorsky-Boeing SB-1 Defiant and Bell V-280 Valor.
Commenting on the collaboration agreement, McCarthy said it was ‘military-to-military’ and locked in on a number of development efforts adding that on some fronts industry involvement and buying decisions could come soon.
McCarthy said: “It is military-to-military and what we did was really lock in on a certain set of weapons systems: precision strike missiles, the lift platforms I mentioned, the common operating picture and some on the networks. On the soldier lethality front, the next-generation squad weapon, night-vision goggles. We talked about – to them about the integrated visual augmentation system as well.
“So that is at the mil-to-mil, and at the – if the interest leads to a buying decision, then obviously we will bring industry into the fold, but that could come very soon on a couple of them.”
Before taking questions McCarthy commented on the Anglo-American joint modernisation agreement saying: “Starting in the United Kingdom, great discussions with counterparts where we talked about joint training exercises, but in particular made the announcement of a pursuit of a joint modernisation effort where we are looking at elaborating on the development of weapons systems and long-range precision fires network, future vertical lift platforms, as well as soldier and ground lethality capabilities.”
McCarthy has been in Europe visiting US allies on a trip that was originally planned for March but was delayed due to the ongoing Covid-19 coronavirus pandemic.