Developing a fleet of aircraft to augment the venerable UH-60 Black Hawk helicopter starts with people on the ground - build the foundation, establish the helicopter framework and produce a world class tactical assault aircraft that is capable of defending our country and Allied partners in Multi-Domain Operations from 2030 and beyond.
The process of developing the Future Long Range Assault Aircraft (FLRAA) for the world’s strongest Army demands a purposeful, strategic, and straightforward plan, and depends entirely on the workforce. The FLRAA Project Office is building an elite Team that has the right culture, climate, and ethical foundation that leads and works with stakeholders and is prepared to grow into FY21 and the next decade.
Bringing the right people on board is key.
And FLRAA is looking for the right blend of talents to build a strong team capable of meeting the goals of the Army’s modernization strategy to equip the first unit in 2030.
“Several of us have seen challenges over the years and have scar tissue from other efforts that didn’t make it across the fence and over the finish line,” said COL David Phillips, FLRAA Project Manager. “I can tell you that that is one of the big reasons why we’re spending a lot of time at the front, on the foundation and framework, starting with the right team.
“This is a generational opportunity to build a new platform,” Phillips said. “I’m extremely fortunate to have started in this office with the best heavy lifters I could possibly ask for.”
Army Aviation’s vision for Multi-Domain Operations requires the next generation vertical lift capabilities that can deter, fight, and win as part of the Joint Force in increasingly dangerous and complex environments. The FLRAA is currently a pre-Major Defense Acquisition Program (ACAT 1C) that will develop and field the next generation of affordable vertical lift tactical assault/utility aircraft for the Army.
Building on the Joint Multi-Role Technology Demonstrator, PM FLRAA initiated critical risk reduction efforts in 2020 using acquisition reform authorities.
PM FLRAA is executing this work, called the Competitive Demonstration and Risk Reduction effort, using an Other Transaction Authority agreement with industry partners.
Phase 1 is currently ongoing and is yielding valuable information and feedback from industry that is helping to further shape and define the right requirements for the Army.
PM FLRAA, together with the Cross Functional Team (CFT) are executing this strategy, aligning with best commercial practices for design and requirements optimization and using cutting-edge digital engineering design tools to flesh out ideas, concepts, and innovations before selecting the aircraft manufacturer in 2022.
PM FLRAA is planning a second phase in 2021 that will allow industry expertise to further optimize requirements through digital engineering to the subsystem level prior to entering the program of record to acquire the weapons system. The contract award for the program of record is planned for 2022.
“It’s not lost on our office and within the Future Vertical Lift Cross Functional Team (CFT), that we only have every 30-40 years to get this right, so we’re really trying to lay a solid foundation,” said Phillips. Working alongside the CFT is paramount to the success of the FLRAA program. Lifecycle affordability is the most important factor for FLRAA and the most significant driver of affordability is competition.
“We’ve grown double in size over the last year at the right time during this crucial phase of our program,” said Jimmy Downs, FLRAA Deputy Project Manager. “As we look at our composition of our team, we see what right looks like. We want critical thinkers who bring ideas and solutions to the table, and we have opportunities within the PM for those who want to join this elite team.”
Among the critical positions FLRAA is currently seeking to fill include Acquisition/Procurement Specialists Cost Estimators, Engineers, Logisticians, and Program Management professionals. Job announcements for PEO Aviation which include many of these positions can be found at usajobs.com.
“We always talk about laying in a good strategy for a modernization approach,” Phillips said. “A good strategy is about ends, ways, and means. The ends in many ways are increasing. We have some pretty stringent goals that we have to hit for requirements, working with the CFT hand-in-hand on those in order to optimize the requirements. From a very macro perspective, this is a priority effort for us to get these requirements laid in straight.”
As PM FLRAA grows, Phillips emphasized that the team does not want to lose the connective tissues that have enabled FLRAA to remain strong on work and social relationships.
“I draw a quote from Jim Collins, author of Good to Great,” Phillips continued. “He said, ‘If you have the right people on the bus, the problem of how to motivate and lead people largely goes away. The right people don’t need to be tightly managed or fired up; they will be self-motivated by the inner drive to produce the best results; to be part of creating something great.’
A large group of dedicated workers. A solid foundation. Requirements laid in straight. FLRAA is poised to stand a long time.
For more information on current job openings, visit: https://www.army.mil/PEOAviation#org-job-announcements.