The deputy commander of US Pacific Command says the Army must field next-generation aircraft with greater range, speed and survivability than is achievable with today’s helicopter inventory.

Lt Gen Tony Crutchfield says the vast distances inherent in the Pacific theatre, as well as the proliferation of anti-aircraft weaponry, are challenging the current generation of army rotorcraft, namely the AH-6 Little Bird, UH-60 Black Hawk, AH-64 Apache and CH-47 Chinook, which were all adopted in the last century.

“I firmly believe the only way we will close the gap with the problems facing us today is with Future Vertical Lift (FVL),” he says, referring to the army-led acquisition programme that will introduce a new family of aircraft with roughly double the range and speed of today’s models.

“We must have Future Vertical Lift,” he continues, speaking at an Army Aviation Association of America conference in Atlanta, Georgia on 30 April. “It is the only way we will be successful in the PACOM environment with the distances. That range and that speed and that survivability are critical to army aviation to be effective in this fight.”


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