Bids are due April 1 for trade studies to define the mission-system capabilities and technologies for the U.S. Army’s planned Joint Multi Role (JMR) rotorcraft.
The Aviation Applied Technology Directorate (AATD) is planning a two-phase JMR technology demonstration, beginning in fiscal 2013 with air-vehicle development and flight testing.
Mission-system development and testing are planned to begin two years later, in fiscal 2015, in recognition that electronics advance faster than airframes, rotors, engines and drive systems.
Phase 2 will kick off with the award of multiple contracts for mission-system effectiveness trades and analyses — equivalent to the air-vehicle configuration studies already under way at AVX Aircraft, Boeing, Bell-Boeing and Sikorsky.
As with the air-vehicle studies, mission-system bidders are being asked to identify those “game-changing” technologies that need maturing through flight demonstration to be ready for JMR full-scale development beginning early in the next decade. There are several supporting technology-development efforts under way this year. “We are having to do some things in parallel, which is not ideal,” says Keith Arnold, team lead for teaming and intelligence within AATD’s systems integration division.
The foundation for the JMR mission system is the open-system Joint Common Architecture (JCA), based on the Future Airborne Capability Environment reusable-software standard developed by government and industry.
“JCA is going to be key to any future aircraft,” Arnold says. “It has got to work if we are to change the way Defense Department aircraft are built and bought, and it’s a big part of what JMR is about.”
A JCA demonstration is planned for fiscal 2014-15. This will feed into the JMR Phase 2 demonstration, “which will develop specific pieces of the mission system and take others that exist and make them work together in a new architecture and airframe,” Arnold says.
“We’d like to put the mission system on one of the air-vehicle demonstrators, but that injects risk,” he says. “So only the stuff that has to be will be tested in flight on the Phase 1 air vehicles. What we can, we will test in surrogate vehicles or on the bench.”
Also feeding into Phase 2 are AATD research programs developing advanced cockpit concepts and crew decision-aiding tools. “We are trying to take an integrated look at the battlespace. This aircraft will not be operating alone, but in a team as part of a larger battle,” Arnold says.
Decision-aiding work is aimed at “answering basic questions about the role of the human in future intelligent cockpits,” he says. “We have aircraft that can fly themselves, so what is the optimum allocation of tasks between the human and the machine?”
March 28, 2012
By Graham Warwick