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Future Transport Rotorcraft (FTR)
Joint Transport Rotorcraft (JTR)

In November 2001 the Army recast the Future Transport Rotorcraft (FTR) program as the Air Maneuver Transport (AMT).

The Future Transport Rotorcraft (FTR) was intended to replace the service's Boeing CH-47 helicopters and transport a 20-ton FCS without the use of a runway, for some time. Initially known as the Joint Transport Rotocraft (JTR), it was hoped the aircraft could also replace the Marine Corps' Sikorsky CH-53 heavy-lift helicopters. However, in October 2000 the Marine Corps decided not to join the program, placing their emphasis on the remanufacture of CH-53.

The Marine Corps withdrew from the Army's Future Transport Rotorcraft (FTR) program in favor of the tiltrotor. They believe the tiltrotor is the way of the future because it flies so much faster and farther than the helicopter. Tilt-wing studies remain a leading contender for any FTR, though the V-22 problems have had a chilling effect on a firm decision.

The US Army is making a radical and revolutionary transformation to create a rapidly deployable force capable of placing 5 divisions anywhere in the world within 30 days. It has earmarked $4.5 billion for a Medium Armored Vehicle, a further $1.8 billion to develop and demonstrate the Future Combat System (FCS) and has plans for a Future Transport Rotorcraft (FTR). Rapid deployment requires armored vehicles capable of being air dropped into tactical positions. This 3-dimensional capability is termed "Airmechanization," and requires the close integration of armored vehicle and transport aircraft requirements.

FTR is sized to provide assured vertical envelopment capability for a 20 ton FCS. Assured means Army hot day (4,000 ft / 95 degrees F) Vertical Take-Off and Landing (VTOL) capability to provide over 90% probability of operation, world-wide. FTR sizing mission radius is 500 km with a VTOL initial take-off. The fuel tank is sized to allow a 1,000 km mission radius with a rolling initial take-off and VTOL capability at mission mid-point.

The ability to operate from unprepared surfaces is critical. This places a limit on maximum downwash velocity, which results in the use of rotors or props for lift instead of jets. Rapid (10 to 20 seconds) combat vehicle unload and load times are important to minimize FTR exposure time. This is accomplished by FCS, in robotic mode, operating in a controlled environment inside the aircraft. FTR is designed to be shipboard compatible. It can take-off from and land on current USMC aircraft carriers (LHD). However, it is not designed to fold into a package that fits on the elevator or in the hanger of a LHD.

The longest over-water leg for global deployment is from Travis AFB, CA to Hickham AFB, HI (2,100 nm or 3,900 km). Prevailing winds are unfavorable. It is necessary to fly about 2,400 air nm to cover 2,100 ground nm. FTR can perform a rolling take-off from Travis AFB at a 125% overload gross weight. Additional fuel is carried in auxiliary fuel tanks. FTR can sling load a 22.4 ton MILVAN from a ship at sea level on a hot day (103 degrees F). FTR can lift substantially more at sea level than at 4,000 ft / 95 degrees F.

The longest over-water leg for global deployment from Travis AFB, CA to Hickham AFB, HI (2,100 nm or 3,900 km). Both helicopter and tilt rotor FTR designs can reach Hawaii. The helicopter takes almost twice as long to reach Hawaii and carries 1/3 as much payload. FTR can perform a rolling take-off from Travis AFB at an overload gross weight that is 125% of the VTOL design gross weight. This extra lift allows FTR to carry the additional fuel required, which is carried in auxiliary fuel tanks. FTR also cruises at best altitude instead of the low altitude used on tactical missions. This best altitude is 12,000 ft for the helicopter design and 24,000 ft for the tilt rotor design. The tilt rotor design is pressurized for high altitude operations, while the helicopter only has NBC overpressure.

Technological advances in the areas of rotorcraft drive systems, aero-mechanics, engines and structures can decrease FTR GW by 38 tons from 102 tons to 64 tons over the 5 year period from FY00 to FY05. This dramatic reduction provides a powerful argument to resource the technology programs that can yield the FY05 improvements in time to support a FTR development program. Beyond FY05, GW decrease due to advanced technology is much smaller. The technology improvement is about half as much (5.5% GW vs 12% GW). However, the reduction in GW is less than a quarter as much (9 tons vs 38 tons) because of the nonlinear impact of technology on GW.

The Joint Transport Rotorcraft (JTR) was envisioned as the DoD's next-generation, heavy lift transport platform for both troop and cargo transport missions. The JTR would replace the aging CH-47 Chinook helicopter in the 20152020 timeframe and may potentially replace the Navy/Marine Corps CH-53E Super Stallion. The JTR could provide both operational and tactical mobility to the Objective Force commander. In its current conceptual form, it is being designed to carry the Future Combat Systems (FCS). In addition, it could transport weapons, ammunition equipment, troops and other cargo in support of combat units and operations-other-than-war. Its objective is to provide "hub-to-warrior" VTOL logistics delivery for C-130 size loads. Based on today's state-of-the-art, JTR could either be a helicopter, a tiltrotor, a quad-tiltrotor, or any other advanced rotorcraft configuration.

Currently, JTR is a FY0007 Army Science and Technology (S&T) program. It is a key part of the larger DoD FY0010 rotorcraft S&T program, structured to provide the rotor, flight control, airframe, propulsion, drivetrain, crew station and survivability technologies required to meet DoD needs. The JTR goals are envisioned to include the following:

  • * Reduce structural weight by 2025%
  • * Increase cruise efficiency by 2025%
  • * Reduce specific fuel consumption by 40%
  • * Reduce drivetrain weight by 35%
  • * Increase maneuverability/agility by 100%
  • * Reduce life-cycle costs by 2550%.

The purpose of the Improved Cargo Helicopter CH-47F (ICH) is to bridge the gap until funding is available for a new start (FY 2020 timeframe) cargo program, the Joint Transport Rotorcraft (JTR). The ICH concept began to materialize in the early 1990's following Desert Storm. The initial concept was a four bladed system called Aerial Cargo Transport (ACT) with long range external fuel tanks, internal cargo handling system, and low maintenance rotor system (dry hub). This concept was dropped as being too expensive.

At full production, the program will complete 26 modernized Chinooks each year through 2013 and employ 750-1,000 people. If the future transport rotorcraft doesn't have the technology or if the Army doesn't have the funding to reach that end state, individual improvements of the CH-47 will give that longevity to go further past the requirement for the future transport rotorcraft. If JTR is delayed, as many as 400 CH-47Ds may be upgraded to ICH standards.

In accordance with the Defense Planning Guidance, in October 2002 the Army submitted its Transformation Roadmap, which outlined the Army's Transformation strategy and detailed how Army Transformation supports sustained progress toward the attainment of the operational goals for Transformation stated in the 2001 Quadrennial Defense Review. As directed by the Secretary of Defense's Transformation Planning Guidance, the Army presente its first annual update to the Army Transformation Roadmap in 2003. This document defined a Heavy Lift Vertical Takeoff and Landing (HLVTOL) as an aircraft with the ability to deliver one FCS within a radius of 1,000 miles [1,600 km]. This represented a considerable increase in the range requirement relative to the nominal FTR requirement of 20 tons and a 500-kilometer radius, or a 1,000 km mission radius with a rolling initial take-off and VTOL capability at mission mid-point.

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Page last modified: 07-07-2011 02:33:28 ZULU