US Army awards FLRAA demo and risk reduction contracts

US Army contracts have been awarded to the two companies competing in the Future Long Range Assault Aircraft (FLRAA) competition for Competitive Demonstration and Risk Reduction (CD&RR) Phase 2.

The awards from US Army Contracting Command on March 30 comprised US$292.65m for Bell Textron and US$284.39m for Sikorsky. Bell is offering the V-280 Valor, while Sikorsky – in a joint bid with Boeing – is proposing the Defiant X. An initial US$19.5m was released to each contractor from US Army fiscal year 2021 (FY21) research, development, test, and evaluation funds at the time of the award. Estimated completion date for both contracts is May 30, 2022.

SB>1 Defiant [Lockheed Martin]
The Sikorsky-Boeing Model S-100 SB>1 Defiant prototype, N100FV (c/n 0001), during a test flight on October 31, 2019. The helicopter, which had made its maiden flight on March 21, 2019, is one of two contenders for FLRAA for which demonstration and risk reduction contracts were awarded on March 30, 2021. Earlier this year, Sikorsky and Boeing revealed that it will be competing in the FLRAA competition with the Defiant X. Lockheed Martin

The US Army Program Executive Office, Aviation, working with Army Contracting Command, awarded these Project Agreement Holder deals under the Aviation and Missile Technology Consortium Other Transaction Authority (OTA). These OTA agreements will require the PAHs to complete an initial preliminary design event for major subsystems and the conceptual weapons system.

CD&RR Phase II will be carried out in near parallel with the programmatic source selection activities and supports preliminary analysis of requirements for Special Operations Command, medical evacuation (MEDEVAC) and Defense Exportability Features in FLRAA. This strategy will enable the winning offeror to complete both air vehicle and weapons system preliminary design reviews in less than a year after the programmatic contract award, thus advancing the schedule to an earlier Milestone B decision. An earlier Milestone B decision will provide more time for detailed design, building and testing of prototype air vehicles.

Brig Gen Rob Barrie, Program Executive Officer, Aviation, said: “The award of these agreements is a significant milestone for FLRAA. CD&RR Phase II accelerates digital engineering design work to the subsystem level and mitigates industrial base workforce risk while maintaining competition.” He continued, “Through CD&RR efforts, Army leaders have had the ability to make early, informed decisions ensuring FLRAA capabilities are not only affordable, but that they meet Multi-Domain Operations requirements while delivering on an aggressive schedule that does not sacrifice rigour for speed.”

V-280 Valor [Bell]
Bell's V-280 Valor tiltrotor was the first of the two to take to the skies. The first prototype completed its maiden flight on December 18, 2017, at the company's facility in Amarillo, Texas. Bell

The agreements support one of the Army’s top priorities: FLRAA is a key capability within the Future Vertical Lift (FVL) programme, one of the Army’s top six modernization efforts. FLRAA will enable multi-domain operations, fly further and faster than existing aircraft and provide air assault and MEDEVAC support to the manoeuvre force in a contested and ever-changing environment.

Crucial to the success of FLRAA’s objectives is the deliberate integration of a Modular Open Systems Approach (MOSA) into its requirements, acquisition, and sustainment strategy. MOSA is a critical enabler for improving lifecycle affordability, directly aligning with Army Aviation objectives to achieve sustained affordability and deliver continuous capability upgrades against future threats. The goal is to successfully execute the FLRAA programme and have the first unit equipped in FY30.