Army leaders from the United States and United Kingdom signed a Future Vertical Lift Cooperative Program Feasibility Assessment project arrangement on behalf of their respective countries’ services on Feb. 14, 2022, pledging to work together to ensure interoperability between the two nations’ future rotorcraft aviation forces.
Under the arrangement signed by Maj. Gen. Walter “Wally” Rugen, the U.S. Army Future Command’s Future Vertical Lift Cross-Functional Team director, and Major-General James Bowder, Director Futures, the two nations will share information about their future rotorcraft requirements and programs. They will also explore and analyze new concepts for the employment of coalition air power in the lower tier air domain, the air space where Army aviation typically operates. Through this joint analysis, the U.S. and U.K. will be able to assess the benefits, risks and overall feasibility of rotorcraft cooperation between the two allies. This arrangement is in addition to an already existing partnership the U.K. has with the U.S. Army and Navy that aims to reduce the divergence between the two countries’ open system architectures, a key component to keeping pace with emerging technology and rapid adaptability and capability evolution.
Program objectives include:
- Identify opportunities to reduce future rotorcraft program cost, schedule, and performance risk.
- Enable and improve rotorcraft interoperability and integration between the armed forces.
- Assess the feasibility of and identify and assess risks associated with pursuing future cooperation in the Research, Development, Test and Evaluation, production, sustainment, and follow-on development of future rotorcraft.
- Provide the two nations with information for use in their respective national decision-making processes.
- Promote future rotorcraft cooperative RDT&E.
- Develop plans for cooperation in future phases of the U.S. Department of Defense FVL program.
“The Army completed Project Convergence 21, our largest Joint experiment in 15 years, last fall and this year PC22 will include allied nations,” Rugen said. “Arrangements like these will ultimately improve our capabilities and strengthen our forces, focusing on joint lethality, survivability and reach, while ensuring affordability for both our countries.”
The U.S. and U.K. have a long history of partnership and cooperation in Army aviation, and the FVL project arrangement is an important step in expanding that relationship into the next generation of vertical lift capability and employment in future coalition operations.
“As you would expect the British Army has an extremely close and productive relationship with the U.S. Army,” said Maj. Gen. James Bowder, the British Army’s Futures’ Director. “Together we are stronger. Our deep science and technology collaboration is an important element of this and makes us both more competitive. Today’s agreement formalizes our cooperation to help determine the future direction of aviation in competition and conflict.”
U.S. Army Futures Command is modernizing Army Aviation with transformational speed, range and lethality achieving decision dominance for the Joint Force in Multi-Domain Operations. The two nations will assess collaboration opportunities on the Future Long-Range Assault Aircraft and the Future Attack Reconnaissance Aircraft, the U.S. Army’s top two aviation modernization priorities, as well as Future Unmanned Aerial Systems, Air Launched Effects, and Open Systems Architecture, among other DoD programs.
The office of the Assistant Secretary of the Army for Defense Exports and Cooperation is responsible for negotiating International Armaments Cooperation agreements like this one with the U.K. Leveraging foreign technologies, capabilities and investment supports U.S. Army readiness, modernization and interoperability goals.