Northrop Grumman
Denewsmay20 2 Figure

FVL Technology Transforms Army’s Rotary Wing Fleet

July 20, 2020
The Future Vertical Lift (FVL) system is a modular open mission computer system that will provide adaptability to many different operating environments.

Designing helicopters and tilt-rotor aircraft for the future will require future-looking technologies, such as Northrop Grumman’s future-vertical-lift (FVL) technology. It represents the integration of a digital backbone into each aircraft to allow rapid adaptability to changing operating conditions and the capability to outdistance any threat. The digital backbone is planned for the U.S. Army’s future attack reconnaissance aircraft (FARA) and future long-range assault aircraft (FLRAA) and the U.S. Marines’ attack utility replacement aircraft (AURA). The FVL’s modular open systems architecture (MOSA) is a mission computer system that will allow FVL-equipped rotary-wing aircraft to interact efficiently with older aircraft and provide effective protection for ground forces.

Future Vertical Lift will be the most sophisticated rotorcraft to enter military service, with all systems connected by the digital backbone,” said James Conroy, vice-president of navigation, targeting, and survivability for Northrop Grumman. “Just as a mobile phone relies on an operating system to connect apps and sensors, this digital backbone will allow the next generation of avionics and self-protection systems to work in a unified way.” The advanced FVL aircraft are being designed to operate alongside existing Apache, Black Hawk, and Chinook aircraft, with interoperability and commonality within Army Aviation requirements top priorities.

Threats are constantly changing, and the mission and avionics systems onboard rotary-wing aircraft must provide adaptability and flexibility to enable the capabilities to stay ahead of the changing threats. “Some of the aircrew who will fly on these aircraft have not even been born yet. That’s how far into the future we need to think,” said Conroy. “The way we will keep these aircraft relevant into the 2060s and beyond is open architecture.” Conroy explains that it is by the use of software-defined, hardware-enabled modular open digital systems that helicopters and other rotary-wing aircraft can be modified to handle almost any conditions: “Our architecture is a flying prototype of what FVL can be,” said Conroy. “These are the capabilities that will enable FVL and the enduring fleet to become the connected and interoperable fleet the Army envisions.”

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