Sikorsky Moves X2 Technology Up A Size For JMR

By Graham Warwick
Source: Aviation Week & Space Technology

“This program requires significant industry investment. It is starting off as a cost-share, with the government leveraging the industry's investment,” explains Mehta. The Sikorsky/Boeing team is not saying what its contribution would be, but the Army has $217 million to spend on two flight demonstrators, and Bell's Garrison says: “The investment by industry is significantly higher than by the government in this program.”

Already 95 Boeing and Sikorsky engineers are working on the Defiant, and the government will get much more that it is paying for with its $6 million preliminary design contract, Shidler notes.

“We've completed an internal conceptual design review and identified strong progress on key technologies to enable the aircraft,” says Mehta. “[JMR] requirements are pretty significant and stretch the boundaries in the dynamics and fuselage, which are strengths of both companies,” he says, citing a transmission design breakthrough “we would not have gotten on our own.”

Lessons learned working together on the canceled RAH-66 Comanche are proving valuable, with Boeing and Sikorsky taking a different approach to sharing the work. “Comanche was component-based, and there was one Boeing and one Sikorsky person on each job,” says Shidler. “[On JMR] we do not take the aircraft and divide it up,” says Mehta. “Technologies are divided into categories and there is a lead for each, but the teams are populated with folks from both companies.”

The companies have teamed in perpetuity on JMR/FVL, which is to replace Boeing's AH-64 Apache as well as the Black Hawk, and a fundamental requirement is to “work together on technology while at the same time retaining our technical competencies. If we take the aircraft and divide it up so that Sikorsky has 100 percent of the dynamics, what happens to Boeing? Or Boeing has 100 percent of the fuselage; what happens to Sikorsky? We both want to advance our competency, attract talent and have our best people working on this program,” Mehta explains.

Cost will be an important factor for FVL, as it already is for AAS. Responding to Army concerns about the cost of the high-speed Raider, Sikorsky took the unprecedented step of publicly committing to a $15 million unit flyaway cost, the upper limit of the Army's procurement budget for AAS. This has been validated, Miller says, with a detailed cost breakdown based on actual parts for the S-97 prototypes or similar parts for other Sikorsky helicopters. “We know what it will cost. We're happy with the numbers,” he says. “This is an assembly of parts that are well known and in production,” adds Van Buiten. “It is an integration of familiar-looking stuff in a different way.”

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