AUSTIN, Texas — Current and planned efforts to modernize Army Aviation were primary topics of discussion during this week’s 2022 Army Aviation Mission Solutions Summit in Nashville, Tennessee.
The three-day event brought together approximately 9,000 aviation leaders, experts and aficionados from across the Army and private industry to workshop new ideas and showcase significant achievements.
Sponsored by the Army Aviation Association of America, the immersive conference included more than 350 exhibits and multiple leadership panels and professional sessions.
During a speech at the summit on Monday, Lt. Gen. Thomas H. Todd III, Deputy Commanding General for Acquisition and Systems and Chief Innovation Officer at Army Futures Command, emphasized that innovating quickly and boldly across multiple fields of activity within aviation will be paramount in achieving future operational success.
“There are all kinds of things in the future that the rest of the Army is counting on Army Aviation to sense, see and potentially target and engage,” Todd explained.
Todd detailed how Army Futures Command has been diligently analyzing, testing and developing breakthrough technologies — such as Air Launched Effects, integrated fires, directed energy weapons and more rapid and effective data networks — to enable decisive victories on future battlefields.
“Speed, range, convergence, decision dominance and overmatch — we work hard each and every day at Army Futures Command to make that a reality,” Todd said.
“We work very hard to find that intersection where something has operational merit and technical merit, ultimately yielding an architecture and designing a future that really is worth investing in,” he continued.
In 2018, the Army launched a more coordinated approach to innovation by consolidating key science, technology and concept development centers and efforts under one command — Army Futures Command.
Since then, the command’s activities have accelerated Army and Joint Force plans to optimize and synchronize capabilities, providing the strength and cohesion needed to win in multi-domain and highly contested environments.
Project Convergence, the command’s multi-phase campaign of rigorous learning and experimentation, plays a central role in this effort, ensuring new tools and systems are field-tested and approved by the warfighters who will use them.
“We are a campaign of experiments throughout the year, ultimately leading to decisions each and every year that we can present to the Army, to help our divisions and our corps fight in an integrated fashion,” Todd explained.
Army Futures Command is currently developing a number of near-term and long-term efforts to advance Army Aviation, including in the areas of maneuverability, agility, lethality, reach, survivability and sustainment.
Through its Future Vertical Lift Cross-Functional Team, the command is harnessing next-generation vertical lift aircraft to address capability gaps. Technologies under development include Future Attack Reconnaissance Aircraft, Future Unmanned Aircraft Systems and Future Long Range Assault Aircraft. To complement these systems, the Army is also working to develop Long Range Precision Munition and an Improved Turbine Engine Program.
The FVL CFT is also embracing a Modular Open Systems Approach, standardizing hardware, software and data interfaces to allow for persistent modernization and smoother, more cost-effective integration of new capabilities.
In addition, the command’s Network CFT and Combat Capabilities Development Command Command, Control, Communication, Computers, Cyber, Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance Center are developing a C5ISR/Electronic Warfare (EW) Modular Open Suite of Standards to increase the flexibility, adaptability and compactness of critical C5ISR and EW systems on aviation platforms.
Army Futures Command’s Synthetic Training Environment CFT is contributing to aviation modernization by leveraging modeling and simulation technologies across the Army Aviation community. These virtual reality tools provide a flexible and effective avenue for increasing warfighter readiness today and improving aviator readiness for the fast-paced and high-tech battlefields of tomorrow.
New aircraft and systems being developed by Army Futures Command will improve endurance, power and speed while also taking into account the need to be affordable, maintainable, sustainable and lithe. Innovations underway will additionally enhance aircraft survivability equipment, provide greater range, increase fires precision and meet the need for aggressive operational tempo with limited resupply. The research and development conducted for new innovations is also allowing for targeted modernization of the enduring fleet.
Long-term efforts in air capabilities include developing aviation assets and long-range fires to eliminate enemy anti-access/area denial at all echelons; creating more layered and protective air and missile defense; and investing in more agile and mobile aviation and missile technology. Within this realm, the DEVCOM Aviation & Missile Center is conducting research and prototyping on a number of advanced aviation and missile technologies, including semi-autonomous launchers, next-generation anti-armor missiles and optimized warheads.
Robust industry partnerships are essential to many of these efforts, and the enthusiasm for working with industry, including small businesses, to devise new solutions for the future was also a theme throughout the summit.
“If you have things that you can bring to bear, bring them now, and I think we’ll make a difference in the future,” Todd said.