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​Next-generation NATO rotorcraft could overlap with FVL

As the US Army plots the high-speed Future Vertical Lift programme, the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation has commissioned a study group to evaluate the future of the alliance's fleet and develop recommendations for members.

A team of experts held its initial meeting discussing the Next Generational Rotorcraft Capability (NGRC) last July and the NATO Industrial Advisory Group (NIAG) will conduct a study guiding the helicopter replacement implementation, Dan Newman, NGRC study chair and senior technical fellow at Boeing, told an audience at the American Helicopter’s Society’s forum this week.

Newman does not know yet if the next generation rotorcraft will include five separate capability sets like FVL and says NATO is starting its own assessment from scratch.

NATO also has no plans to form a joint international programme with the army, he adds.

“If they happen to be the same, that’s great,” he says. “We’re not going to force them to be the same and we’re not going to listen to FVL, we’re going start from scratch so in the end if they’re using the same physics and the same needs, they’re gonna end up with the same set of recommendations.”

The need for the alliance's members to replace aging rotorcraft took on increased urgency following Russia’s annexation of Crimea in 2014, he says.

To date, the team of experts filled by operators and customers appear to be on the same page as the army and US Defense Department when it comes to vertical lift requirements, Newman says. Yet even if those requirements dovetail between the US joint services and NATO, members could be resistant to alliance-imposed mandates.

“We’ve shown international collaboration can be good,” he says. “We’ve shown forcing can be a challenge.”