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Heavy Lift Vertical Takeoff and Landing (HLVTOL)

The HLVTOL is an aircraft with the ability to deliver one FCS within a radius of 1,000 miles [1,600 km]. This represents a considerable increase in the range requirement relative to the nominal AMT - Air Maneuver Transport and FTR - Future Transport Rotorcraft requirement at 20 tons and a 500-kilometer radius [FTR also had a 1,000 km mission radius with a rolling initial take-off and VTOL capability at mission mid-point]. Today's helicopters fall far short of the goals of a 20-ton payload with a 500-kilometer radius. Upgrading existing rotorcraft with modern large engines might allow for fulfillment of the mission only if the FCS weighs only 12-15 tons and a shorter radius is required.

The ability to insert combat vehicles vertically gives the commander unparalleled speed and agility. Generally independent of ground conditions, it enables the Joint Force Commander to conduct vertical envelopment and vertical maneuver, as well as the ability to avoid predictable, linear patterns of operation. It also offers significant benefits to vertical joint logistics over-the-shore.

In July 1996, after AAN (Army After Next) project initiation and reading "On the Need and Feasibility of a Very Heavy Lift Helicopter (VHLH) in Support of the Army's Force XXI Operations Concept," General Robert Scales (then TRADOC Deputy Chief of Staff for Doctrine) wrote: "We can conceive of a Future Combat Vehicle (FCV) of about 30-40 tons, even more lethal and mobile as the M-1, but with much greater fuel efficiency. So conjure me up an aerial lift vehicle that can transport such a load: -tactically, over 200-300 miles -a great speed - 150-250 mph - with stealth -capable of flying at a very low level, maybe even a "terrain effects vehicle" -with some survivability built in. Such a machine is the essential ingredient to our Army After Next Operational concept."

During the 1997 war game at Fort Leavenworth, friendly forces employed HLVTOLs with speeds of over 120 mph (miles per hour) over distances of 900 miles to deploy the FCS. The opposing force commander quickly discovered that he could not counter this by fighting conventionally.

By 2002, AAN had evolved into the Objective Force, which formally recognized the importance of Army Transformation producing a force that could conduct vertical envelopments. "Objective Force systems support dominant maneuver - horizontal and vertical, day and night - in all weather and terrain as dismounted or mounted combined arms teams with unyielding unit integrity." And execution "of this paradigm shift across a distributed battle space relies on new vertical and horizontal. capabilities (i.e. HLVTOL [Heavy Lift Vertical Take Off and Landing].)." The key issues that will determine the capabilities (and hence weight) of the Future Combat System (FCS) include the survivability and lethality required to dominate. The combat weight of the FCS drives the HLVTOL design.

Bell Aircraft has proposed a Quad Tilt-Rotor able to lift 90 personnel or one 12.5-ton vehicle to an un-refueled range of 610 miles at 320 mph. While Carter Aviation Technologies has proposed a compound helicopter called the "CarterCopter Heliplane-Transport" to carry 22.5 tons 1500 miles at 450 mph.

Called the CarterCopter Heliplane Transport, the rotorcraft takes off, hovers and lands like a helicopter. At speeds above 100 MPH, the CCH-T converts to a CC high-technology gyroplane by unloading its rotor onto very efficient high-aspect ratio wings and (in the process) slows its rotor to minimize profile drag and maximize flight efficiency.

The CCH-T would be the largest rotorcraft ever flown. Its size, design and capabilities are impressive by any standard. The aircraft is taller than a four-story building. The main wheels are six feet tall, the two props are 24 feet in diameter and the rotor is one-half the length of a football field. A fully loaded Greyhound bus can be driven up its ramp and parked inside (with room to spare), and then flown away - straight up. Once airborne, the CCH-T converts into a CC gyroplane with flight efficiencies equivalent to fixed-wing aircraft. The CCH-T is designed to cruise at 450 MPH at 30,000 ft altitude and carry a 45,000 lb payload for 1500 miles with a 45-minute fuel reserve.

The CC prototype was built as a proof-of-concept demonstrator for both the CC ultra-high-inertia rotor and the control system interface between the rotor and wings. Other innovations on the prototype include the CC high efficiency prop with a computerized prop controller, and the extreme-energy absorbing landing gear. On the CCH-T, the 24-ft diameter 4-bladed version of the same prop will produce over 40,000 lbs of static thrust (per prop x 2 props).

AHS International, in cooperation with NASA and the major U.S. helicopter manufacturers, conducts an annual helicopter design competition in an effort to promote student interest in vertical flight. AHS International - The Vertical Flight Society, which has more than 6,000 members, is the world's leading technical, professional society dedicated to the advancement of vertical flight technology and its applications. The 2005 American Helicopter Society / Industry / NASA Annual Student Design Competition Award Request for Proposals was for a Heavy Lift VTOL Design Competition was sponsored by Boeing, the FCS system integrator. This project was a request for proposals for a Heavy Lift VTOL aircraft concept which can transport light combat vehicles over military ranges of interest, while being able to operate off of air capable naval ships.

The development of US Army Future Combat Systems vehicles is approaching 20 tons for their heaviest configurations, and there is renewed emphasis for flexible mission basing, including 'from the sea'. There are currently no shipboard compatible rotorcraft which can lift and transport such vehicles. The aircraft must have capability for intra-theater deployment of 1000 nm range, without refueling. It is anticipated that launch of the configuration will lead to Initial Operational Capability (4 aircraft delivered to operational users) in the year 2018. The anticipated fleet size is 200 aircraft, delivered over a 15 year manufacturing period.

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Page last modified: 07-07-2011 02:33:07 ZULU