REDSTONE ARSENAL, Ala. -- Advanced Vertical Takeoff and Landing was a topic of discussion at the recent American Helicopter Society International's Annual Forum & Technology Display in Houston, Texas.

U.S. Army Aviation and Missile Research, Development and Engineering Center's Dr. William Lewis and Dr. Dana Taylor led a special panel session titled "Advanced VTOL Air Vehicle Design" at the forum to discuss potential solutions for the future.

VTOL refers to an aircraft's ability to takeoff, hover and land vertically. There are numerous advantages to advancing VTOL capabilities, particularly maneuverability in a combat situation.

"It is the Aviation Development Directorate's charter to look at long-term technology solutions that will shape and drive Army aviation," said Taylor, a senior research scientist at AMRDEC. "It is our responsibility to understanding technology and identify technology have will have positive impact on Army for the next 20 to 30 years."

The special session highlighted presentations by representatives of four manufacturers who each discussed aircraft development programs in progress including Aurora Flight Sciences' LightningStike aircraft, Bell Helicopters' V-280 Valor, Lockheed-Piasecki's Aerial Reconfigurable Embedded System and Sikorsky-Boeing's SB>1 Defiant.

"The LightningStrike and ARES aircraft are unmanned aircraft whose purpose is to demonstrate novel concepts and capabilities, while the V-280 and SB>1 are part of the AMRDEC ADD's Joint Multi-Role Technology Demonstrator program," Taylor said.

"The purpose of the JMR-TD program is to mature the critical technologies and reduce the risk toward replacing the military's current vertical lift fleet with a new family of aircraft as well as inform the requirements for the Future Vertical Lift program."

"Different services have different needs, but the Army is trying to find the 'sweet spot' between low and high speed configurations," said JMR-TD Program Director, Dan Bailey.

"Low speed maneuverability at the objective area is still a core Army capability requirement, but the future operational environments dictate a lead-ahead capability in the area of speed, range, and payload."

Advanced rotary-wing configurations and enabling technologies are needed to achieve the combination of performance for range, speed, payload, as well as survivability, reliability and affordability for emerging Future Vertical Lift requirements and missions. Advancing these enabling technologies include examining areas like rotor control, blade control and vibration control.

JMR-TD aircraft demonstrators are near completion for assembly and will fly from late 2017- 2019. The second iteration of architecture demonstrations will complete in mid-2017, with a final major demo in 2018-2020. The first Future Vertical Lift acquisition program of record has passed the Material Development Decision and is using the JMR-TD knowledge base robustly in decisions and analysis for that first and subsequent programs.

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U.S. Army Aviation and Missile Research, Development and Engineering Center is part of the U.S. Army Research, Development and Engineering Command, which has the mission to provide innovative research, development and engineering to produce capabilities for decisive overmatch to the Army against the complexities of the current and future operating environments in support of the Joint Warfighter and the Nation. RDECOM is a major subordinate command of the U.S. Army Materiel Command.