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Joint Multi-Role Rotorcraft (JMR)
Joint Multi-Role Aircraft
Joint Multi-Role Helicopter

On 03 October 2014 the US Army picked designs from Bell Helicopter and a Sikorsky/Boeing team to continue development of Joint Multi-Role (JMR) high-speed rotorcraft designs. The rejected AVX design was a compound helicopter design similar to the Defiant. Meanwhile, the rejected Karem proposal was a variable-speed tilt-rotor similar to the Bell entry.

The Joint Multi-Role Rotorcraft (JMR) Technology Demonstration [JMR TD] program supports the US Army’s Future Vertical Lift (FVL) initiative to deliver the next generation of vertical lift utility and attack aircraft. During a four-and-a-half month study, members on the Army Aviation Task Force made more than 120 recommendations on how to turn aviation brigades into joint and expeditionary forces that are modular units of action. There are four classes of aircraft that have been identified for the fleet - light, medium, heavy and ultra.

Out of the recommendations came the idea to develop three new aircraft -- a light utility helicopter, an armored reconnaissance helicopter and a cargo aircraft. The technology that was developed for the Comanche will not be lost, but will be harvested in other Army aviation programs. The goal is to work through a joint solution with the sister services and decide on a new rotorcraft by 2020 or 2025. Such notional concepts were previously called the Future Attack Rotorcraft and other names.

The Joint MultiRole Helicopter was one of the new programs promised by the Secretary of the Army to come from the Comanche cancellation. However, initally neither the Army Aviation and Missile Command in Alabama nor the Department of the Army in Washington had any knowledge of the program. A subsequent Request For Information (RFI) provided no clues. Some thought that the Joint Multi-Role helicopter was a Joint VTOL Heavy Lift aircraft capable of delivering payloads such as the Future Combat System to distant battlefields. While this Joint Multi-Role helicopter was not believed to be part of the Army’s immediate plan for the use of former Comanche funding, it nevertheless was under consideration as a possible future “new start.”

Finally, in early 2004 a spokesperson for the Office of the Secretary of Defense explained that the Joint Multi-Role Helicopter program is matched to the attack and reconnaissance missions. The Joint multi-role rotorcraft is an Army and Marine Corps effort to replace both the Boeing AH-64D Apache and Bell AH-1Z SuperCobra. Potential contenders could include an attack derivative of the Bell-Agusta BA609 tiltrotor. The Boeing X-50A Canard Rotor Wing was a contender [until the demonstrator crashed a second time].

The Army Aviation Applied Research Technology program element (PE 0602211A), System Concepts Studies in FY08, examined rotorcraft technology areas to determine where science and technology investments can best be invested to meet the emerging needs of the user. Possible investigations may include the Joint Multi-Role Aircraft, Optimum Speed Rotor, Quad Tilt-Rotor, Advancing Blade Concept, and Optimum Speed Tilt-Rotor. In FY09, it would continue to study new technology areas in concert with the requirements generation process and planning guidance to determine future investment needs.

In a Joint Multi Role (JMR) configuration, an advanced variable speed tilt rotor or other advanced rotorcraft design has the potential to greatly improve the range, mission loiter time and speed of the Army and Marine rotary wing attack / escort and armed reconnaissance / VTOL Intelligence, Surveillance, and Reconnaissance (ISR) fleet while providing up to a 50% reduction in fuel demand when operating over extended (expeditionary) distances. These advancements in mission performance would be essential to support escort for advanced lift fleets and landing zone security and protection operations for mounted vertical maneuver operations. These designs would also be much more suited for operations for naval vessels and future advanced sea bases.

By 2020, the Army planned to begin developing a new attack aircraft known as the Joint Multi-Role rotorcraft (JMR). The JMR concept envisioned attack/reconnaissance and utility versions based on a common design, with a total of 2,400 aircraft projected as of late 2007. The initial JMR variant is to be an attack aircraft, which could offer significant improvements over the Longbow Apache. There is significant uncertainty about the capabilities, technology, and costs associated with the JMR. Starting in 2023, the Army’s aviation modernization plan calls for the JMR to be developed jointly with the Marine Corps. The JMR would replace the fleet of Longbow AB3 attack helicopters as they are retired beginning around 2030. After 2038, the Army plans to replace the Lakotas and the upgraded Blackhawks with the JMR.

In a November 2007 report, CBO used historical costs as a starting point to arrive at an estimate for RDT&E of $3.7 billion from 2019 to 2026. For 2,400 JMRs—enough for a one-for-one replacement of the Army’s Apaches and Blackhawks—and a full production rate of about 200 JMRs per year, CBO estimated a unit cost for the JMR at $24 million and a total procurement cost of about $57 billion.

The ARL tiltrotor program includes utilization and advanced development of comprehensive and multi-body dynamics methods in the area of composite structures, for tailoring the rotor systems to reduce vibration and improve aeroelastic stability. This technology contributes to satisfying the growing need for an improved commuter transport and impacts future Army requirements for an advanced heavy-lift cargo and personnel transport rotorcraft, leading to the Aviation and Missile Command (AMCOM) Advanced Technology Demonstrator: Joint Heavy-Lift and Joint Multi-Role rotorcraft.

Piasecki Aircraft Corp. (PiAC) has achieved first flight of its X-49A Vectored Thrust Ducted Propeller (VTDP) Compound Helicopter Technology demonstrator. This program is a U.S. Army Advanced Technology Demonstration (ATD) initiative being managed by the Aviation Applied Technology Directorate, Fort Eustis, VA. Successful flight demonstration of this technology will provide the Services a basis for assessing potential application of this technology to upgrade existing helicopter platforms such as the H-60, AH-64 and Marine Corps H-1 helicopters, as well as expand the technology base for future potential platforms, such as the Joint Multi-Role rotorcraft.

On 03 October 2013 the Aviation and Missile Research, Development and Engineering Center announced the award of four Technology Investment Agreements under Broad Agency Announcement W911W6-12-R-0021 Joint Multi-Role Technology Demonstrator Phase 1 to AVX Aircraft Company, Bell Helicopter Textron Inc., Karem Aircraft Inc., and Sikorsky Aircraft Company. The purpose of the JMR-TD is to demonstrate an operationally representative mix of capabilities to investigate realistic design trades and enabling technologies. Emerging results from JMR-TD Phase 1 will be used to inform the Future Vertical Lift effort regarding promising vehicle configurations, the maturity of enabling technologies, attainable performance and capabilities, and highlight the affordable technical solutions required to achieve those capabilities.

Since JMR-TD is not a pre-selection program for FVL, the decision not to fully fund one of the demonstrators could be made for a variety of reasons. The conclusion could be, for instance, that a particular design meets the desired capability and is sufficiently mature and therefore, does not need further investment of the Army's Science and Technology funds.

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Page last modified: 24-06-2015 20:05:14 ZULU