Rotor & Wing International

FVL Grappling With Fusing Joint Requirements, Commonality

Pat Host discusses Washington D.C. updates.

The U.S. military’s Future Vertical Lift program is trying to determine how to fuse requirements from different stakeholders involved with the effort with the demand for a common platform, according to a key decision maker.

The U.S. Army’s project manager for Future Vertical Lift and the related Improved Turbine Engine, Richard Kretzschmar, said in December that Pentagon acquisition czar Frank Kendall has approved the program moving into the materiel solution and analysis phase. The big part of this phase, okayed last October, is working with the U.S. Marine Corps and the Special Operations Command (under an Army lead) to validate requirements, Kretzschmar said.

The Army has lead acquisition authority for Future Vertical Lift.

Kretzschmar, speaking at a December event in Arlington, Virginia, noted that the Future Vertical Lift program had rolled out its initial set of desired vertical-flight capabilities. With this grouping, dubbed Capability Set 3, the program is looking at the Army’s utility mission, the Marine attack and utility missions and the Special Operations Command deep attack and penetration missions.

The challenge, he said, is taking those requirements and convincing decision makers that the program can meet those requirements with a “relatively common” airframe.

Though commonality has different meanings, Kretzschmar said, the program leaders aim to marry commonality with what they see as either current technology maturation or what that maturation will be in 2018. Kretzschmar said the program would then move onto Milestone A, with clearance to move into the technology maturation and risk reduction phase. That currently is scheduled for 2019.

At the moment, he said, the program is still working on an acquisition strategy. Though they have one in mind, Kretzschmar said, the program leaders are looking at tailoring the strategy based on the technology maturation and how that lines up with the requirements and what their confidence and risk acceptance is moving forward.

As part of the effort to fuse requirements from different stakeholders, Kretzschmar said, a small group of three-star-level officers has been created to adjudicate discrepancies in the requirements or resources for Future Vertical Lift. Kretzschmar said this group — called the General Officer Steering Committee — would have a single member from all participating services and organizations. At this point, it includes representatives of the Army, Marines and Special Operations Command.

Judging Trade-Offs

The steering committee would have the resource and requirement decision authority for the different participants in Capability Set 3, he said, and would be brought into discussions as needed. Kretzschmar added that if resources get traded away and some requirements have to be adjusted, the committee would have the authority to make the adjudication decision.

Capability Set 3 corresponds to what was originally called Future Vertical Lift medium, upon oppose specifications the Joint Multi Role Technology Demonstrators are based. Teams of Sikorsky-Boeing and Bell Helicopter are developing those technology demonstrators to provide technical input into the Future Vertical Lift effort.

Kretzschmar said the steering committee would rank below an executive steering group, but above a council of colonels headed by Army Col. Doug Hooks, systems division chief at Army headquarters. Kretzschmar said the steering committee has not met and that the Future Vertical Lift program is in the process of putting together a memorandum of agreement and charter to present to this group in the near future. R&WI