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Sunday, February 1, 2009

Rotorcraft Report: Army Still Wants Joint Heavy Lift Helo

MILITARY

Years after the project began, the manager of the Army-led Joint Heavy Lift program is still trying to persuade Pentagon leaders and the aviation community that the idea of a transport approaching 200,000-lb gross weight that can take off and land vertically, be based on ships, and get troops and supplies to austere battlefield locations isn’t a pipe dream.

Bruce Tenney, associate director for technology at the Army’s Aviation Applied Technology Directorate, told the AUSA’s January 7-9 aviation symposium JHL is making progress, despite "a perception that the Air Force is not interested." In fact, Tenney reported, the U.S. Air Force has finally agreed that vertical lift aircraft should be considered as the C-130’s replacement.

The Air Force previously insisted it was only interested in a STOL aircraft able to take off and land within 1,500 feet, Tenney said. The Army, Marine Corps and Navy want an aircraft that can land on ships. Tenney’s office has suggested a large tiltrotor might be the solution.

JHL is a candidate for the Air Force’s C-130 replacement program, known as Joint Future Theater Lift. Tenney said the services are working on an Initial Capabilities Document for Pentagon approval and, once that’s done, he hopes to get approval to build a JHL technology demonstrator aircraft beginning in 2012. "JHL is alive," Tenney told the AUSA gathering. "We can’t win if this community doesn’t believe it. Please spread the word!"

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