Bogosian: All-new helicopter needed to break speed and range barriers

I interviewed Paul Bogosian, head of army aviation acquisition, yesterday at the AUSA convention. We talked about why he thinks the army needs to start developing an all-new new helicopter with breakthrough advances for speed and range compared to today’s technology.

Here’s what Bogosian said about why a new helicopter is needed:


Therehave been a number of studies that have surfaced over the years that havepointed to the disparity of technology investment of rotory wing in the Departmentof Defense relative to TACAIR aviation. They go back to the Vietnam era andcompare the forces relative to the number of incidents and losses and injuries.And you see where significant investments in fixed wing tactical fighters haveput them at a much better posture relative to those issues than rotory wingaviation.

We stillexperience for the most part the same conditions that we experienced coming outof Vietnam.Now, we have more sophisticated platforms. [Current helicopters] have more power,they have more capability, but essentially they operate down in a dirty environmentclose to the fight and they haven’t brought any great new technologies relativeto speed and range.

We’realways limited by the fact that conventional rotory wing technology, which iscentered around the ability to hover and to have vertical flight, brings technicallimitations to those other considerations of speed and range.

Now, one ofthe things that TACAIR has done is, by investing in the ability to fly fasterand higher, they have brought a level of survivability to the force that theydidn’t have during the Vietnamera. We have not made that same transition yet in rotary wing aviation.

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6 Responses to Bogosian: All-new helicopter needed to break speed and range barriers

  1. Royce 8 October, 2008 at 1:44 pm #

    The army has enough on its plate already funding mundane projects to be worried about driving a whole new advances in rotary technology. If the Army can’t even manage to build a new ARH using existing technology, why trust them to push the envelope?

  2. eg 8 October, 2008 at 2:43 pm #

    Royce-
    Let the manufacturers explain what they can do with little risk within the state of the art and slightly head. The Army then issues the specs based on what the manufacturers claim. Freeze the design and fly it! No running changes. No gold plating. Build the FAH-XX by going back to the block concept and introduce running changes with block changes and during depot.

    The ARH is suffering from the same problems the RAH did. The UH-72 did well because it is a TSO’ed product restricted to certain operational areas. The Army was restricted from making any real changes. The aircraft is mostly a civilian bird wearing Olive Drab
    Plus, more importantly, I suspect Eurocopter also probably said “No” better than Bell did.

  3. John S. 8 October, 2008 at 3:20 pm #

    The same could be said for fixed wing aircraft. We haven’t had more speed since the 1950′s. We’ve had more range due to advances in engine technology, but not a paradigm shift in capability.

    Those same advances in engine technology have also made rotary wing aircraft more fuel efficient, but not dramatically so.

    Hey, wait a minute. Wasn’t the Lockheed AH-56A Cheyenne supposed to meet these goals? Wasn’t the Boeing V-22 Osprey supposed to meet these goals? Isn’t the Piasecki X-49A Speedhawk currently exploring these goals?

    I think we’re just fine.

  4. Royce 8 October, 2008 at 4:45 pm #

    “Let the manufacturers explain what they can do with little risk within the state of the art and slightly head. The Army then issues the specs based on what the manufacturers claim.”

    Unfortunately you then run the risk that the contractor promises far more than it can deliver.

  5. eg 8 October, 2008 at 6:54 pm #

    I agree, but the program manager within DoD should have sufficently talented staff to separate the promises from the bull.

    The Mfr also needs to be able to rapidly design, freeze and know how to say no.

  6. yasotay 8 October, 2008 at 11:04 pm #

    Having sat through some rotorcraft technology efforts, one thing I can tell you is there are not a lot of young people working on rotorcraft. No one is coming out of the engineering schools begging to work on 30-50 year old designs.

    ARH is endemic of what happens when you forget how to design and develop high tech machinery. Both the Army and Bell are to blame for the current fiasco. An interesting note is that there are about fifteen government agencies that get their fingers in the pie when you start asking for a new vehicle. Getting two of them to agree can be hard, try more. Industry likewise has its own problems between “the suits” and the “engineers”.

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