Boeing and partner Sikorsky are hoping to be on contract for the US Army's Joint Multi-Role/Future Vertical Lift (JMR/FVL) technology demonstration phase by September.
"We suspect the companies that are going to be selected for this down-select; we'll know that in the next couple of weeks so that they can start the negotiations and be on contract by September," says Mark Ballew, Boeing's vertical lift business development director.
Boeing is working with Sikorsky to develop an aircraft based on the latter company's X2 high-speed compound helicopter technology. The JMR technology demonstration phase aims to test-fly by 2017 two flying prototypes for a new high-speed rotorcraft, which would be developed into a replacement for the Sikorsky UH-60 Black Hawk(below) in the 2030s.
The decision to partner with Sikorsky rather than Bell Helicopter - Boeing's current partner on the V-22 Osprey - is seen as a possible lack of confidence in the future viability of tiltrotor technology. Bell is bidding with its V-280 Valor, which it describes as a third-generation tiltrotor.