Congress Supports FVL and DVE

US Capitol BuildingAs a result of the education campaign being conducted by AHS International and the Vertical Lift Consortium, a key subcommittee in the US Congress has included language that is supportive of the joint Future Vertical Lift (FVL) initiative. (Check out AHS’s extensive resources on FVL at www.vtol.org/FVL.) For the first time, Congress has intimated that the program should be accelerated. 

On Monday, April 19, the House Armed Services Committee (HASC) Subcommittee On Tactical Air & Land Forces released its markups on the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), excerpted below. Also included below is language on Degraded Visual Environment (DVE) challenges for rotorcraft, but not related to our efforts on FVL.

Over the past two years, the AHS/VLC efforts have resulted in an additional $24M to FVL. These and other AHS advocacy efforts are described at www.vtol.org/advocacy

Text of Legislation, 114th Congress (see pg 40): Subcommittee on Tactical Air and Land Forces Mark: H.R.4909 - FY17 NDAA

Future Vertical Lift

The committee recognizes that incremental improvements or upgrades to current Department of Defense rotorcraft will not fully meet future joint service operational requirements. With the exception of the V-22 Osprey, all U.S. rotorcraft deployed in the Republic of Iraq and the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan were designed during or before the Vietnam War. The committee continues to support the development of future vertical lift aircraft and encourages the Department to expand the prototyping program. Future Vertical Lift (FVL) is a joint program, with support from the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marine Corps, Special Operations Command, and Coast Guard.

The committee understands that a key aspect of the FVL program is the Army's Joint Multi-Role (JMR) Technology Demonstrator. The JMR program includes related research on next-generation rotors, drivetrains, engines, sensors, and survivability that all feed into the FVL program. The committee notes that fiscal year 2017 is a critical year for technology development, with first flights of two demonstrator aircraft. Furthermore, wind-tunnel testing and other key milestones will reduce risk for the program of record and inform the FVL analysis of alternatives, which is expected to occur in the second half of 2017. However, the committee is concerned, due to the current resource constrained environment, that current funding levels are inadequate.

Therefore, the committee directs the Secretary of the Army to provide a briefing to the House Committee on Armed Services by January 31, 2017, on the status of both the prototype air vehicle demonstrations and supporting initiatives. The briefing should include potential options and required resources for accelerating the FVL program.

Rotorcraft degraded visual environment

The committee notes that the Department of Defense Appropriations Act, 2015 (division C of Public Law 113-235) appropriated an increase of $20.0 million above the budget request for the development or procurement of a degraded visual environment (DVE) system for rotorcraft programs. The committee is aware of the challenges that the military services face in regards to operating rotary winged aircraft in austere environmental conditions, including brown-out landings and marginal weather, while operating in difficult terrain. According to the Army, degraded visual environment conditions contribute to approximately 25 percent of its rotary wing mishaps. The committee notes that the Army’s Special Operations Command (SOCOM) has made DVE a top priority, and that the Army is looking at leveraging the work that SOCOM has already performed in order to accelerate this capability across Army rotorcraft programs.

Therefore, the committee directs the Secretary of the Defense to provide a briefing to the House Committee on Armed Services by December 1, 2016, that includes an update on Army, Navy, Marine Corps, and Air Force plans to integrate DVE capabilities into their respective rotorcraft and tilt-rotorcraft programs.

AHS International thanks the members of the committee for their support of FVL!


Posted April 21, 2016