NASHVILLE, Tenn. - A Tennessee National Guard Soldier was one of only four Soldiers selected nationwide to participate in the Future Vertical Lift Program study in San Jose, Calif., in mid-March of 2018. This is a maneuverability study in conjunction with ongoing Joint Multi-role Technology Demonstrator efforts.

Lt. Col. Jay Deason, flight facility commander for the Tennessee National Guard's 1-107th Airfield Operations Battalion, was notified in November that he was the National Guard Bureau's selected candidate for the study. Recommended candidates had to possess a minimum of 500 rotary wing flight hours and instructor pilot qualification was preferred.

"This is a big deal," said Maj. Gen. Max Haston, the Adjutant General of the Tennessee National Guard. "I know the Army National Guard will benefit from Jay being part of this team."

"I think this speaks highly of the Tennessee Army National Guard aviation reputation," said Col. Joe Miller, the state aviation officer.

Soldier participation was requested by the US Army Aviation Center of Excellence to add operational relevancy to the study. They are scheduled to operate the NASA vertical motion simulators with the intent to operationally assess the maneuverability of FVL technologies.

"As the Department of Defense's current fleet of vertical lift aircraft become older, there is an inherent need to increase our capabilities while ensuring our global overmatch through newer aircraft designs," said Col. Erskine "Ramsey" Bentley, Training and Doctrine Command Capability Manager for Future Vertical Lift, US Army Aviation Center of Excellence, Fort Rucker, Ala. "Future Vertical Lift is a joint initiative to help begin a modernization of our current vertical lift fleet across the DOD enterprise."

"The outcome of the study is to get qualitative data from the joint force as to the increased capabilities potential FVL designs can provide within maneuverability and agility metrics," said Bentley.

Aviators were selected from across the Army (active duty, Guard and Reserves) nationwide, with a cross section of experience and total flight hours.

"We are excited to have a broad spectrum of experience participate, including all five services," said Bentley. "This will help ensure we have an all-inclusive set of parameters in which we can measure maneuverability and agility as we move forward with the FVL program."

Deason is the only National Guard pilot taking part in this part of the study. However, the National Guard has a unique role in aviation.

The National Guard is a well-integrated and trained force keeping our nation safe and protecting our national interests. Today, our security environment is more dynamic and complex and our nation places greater reliance on its National Guard.

One of the Chief of the National Guard Bureau's priorities this year is innovation. Improving processes, leveraging new technologies, and eliminating obsolete doctrine are just some of the ways to promote innovation within the National Guard.

"As the character of war and threats continues to evolve, creative minds are necessary more than ever," said Lengyel in the 2018 National Guard Bureau Posture Statement. "Our adversaries have improved their technology and our technological superiority is waning."

To achieve a technological and lethal advantage over our enemies, the Army must modernize its personnel and war fighting systems.

"We hope to find that between the different FVL like technologies, a valuable set of qualitative data points from which we can ensure our future fleet will be measured upon in regards to maneuverability and agility," said Bentley. An example of this would be an updated version of the military's design specifications.

"What we want to achieve is significantly different from the way we've done business in the past and has the potential to make a huge difference in the future," said Brig. Gen. Frank Tate, the director of Army Aviation, Office of the Deputy Chief of Staff for operations, planning and training, in an interview at the Pentagon earlier this year.

Over the last few decades, the Army has refurbished its aging helicopter fleet to save money while trying to keep up with the demands of the digital age war fight. All the increased weight has been a factor during deployments. Since 9/11, National Guard members have deployed more than 850,000 times to locations such as Iraq, Afghanistan, Kuwait, the Balkans, Guantanamo Bay and the Sinai.

According to the 2018 National Defense Strategy, "Today, we are emerging from a period of strategic atrophy, aware that our competitive military advantage has been eroding...In this environment, there can be no complacency-we must make difficult choices and prioritize what is most important to field a lethal, resilient and rapidly adapting Joint Force."

The FVL study accomplishes this. The study Deason is taking part in will help to determine how "enroute speeds and long range requirements affect low speeds maneuverability and agility during the transition from enroute speed to altitude," said Bentley. "The program is moving along with good progressions towards new aircraft in our DOD fleet."

The results of the study won't be immediately visible-possibly the next 12 to 20 years, according to Bentley.

"There is a lot of work going on now to ensure we get it correct and have the most effective designs we can get within that timeline," he said. "Our study will feed any new start designs as a primary function; any effect on the current fleet will be through a secondary effect of changes to advanced flight controls or human system interface data points collected during the study."

Located in nearly every zip code, the National Guard provides overwhelming capability and capacity to Governors before and after disasters. According to a report from the National Guard Bureau, in fiscal year 17, the National Guard responded to 122 national disasters involving wild fires, floods, winter storms, as well as tropical storms and hurricanes. In addition, Guard forces conducted 31 search and rescue missions.

These could be accomplished with more proficiency by utilizing up-to-date equipment and technological advancements, some of which the military's civilian counterparts are already using.

"Our security environment is more dynamic and complex and our nation places greater reliance on its National Guard," said Lengyel. "This is why my focus every day is to ensure we are ready and we have the resources to accomplish our three core missions -fighting America's wars, securing the homeland, and building enduring partnerships at the local, State, Federal and international levels."