Eurocopter’s goal is to increase speed 50% with a maximum increase in life-cycle cost of 25%, while retaining the low-speed maneuverability of a helicopter.
The proof-of-concept X3 was built using parts of other Eurocopter products, including an EC155 airframe and main rotor, EC175 gearbox and NH90 engines. While the demonstrator weighs 11,500 lb., for a production rotorcraft the concept is scalable from 13,000 lb. to “much more” than 31,000 lb., Mundt says. Today’s UH-60M weighs 22,000 lb.
The FVL initiative also envisions replacing the Boeing AH-64D Apache as well as lighter and heavier rotorcraft, including eventually the Bell-Boeing V-22 Osprey tiltrotor.
The X3 concept is suited to the attack mission, Mundt says, because of its ability to accelerate and decelerate in level flight, point the nose up or down in the hover and to control speed in a dive using the propellers.
“Do we have an opportunity to compete in JMR/FVL? I think this can do it,” he says.