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Karem Aircraft specializes in development of advanced fixed-wing and rotary-wing aircraft, including prototyping and flight testing of high-efficiency tiltrotors, both manned and unmanned. Karem Aircraft is a participant in the US Army’s Joint Multi-Role Technology Demonstration (JMR TD) program and DARPA’s VTOL X-Plane (VXP) program. The TR75 Optimum Speed Tilt-Rotor (OSTR) meets or exceeds all Joint Future Theater Lift (JFTL) requirements. With offices in Lake Forest, California, Karem Aircraft is led by renowned aircraft designer, Abe Karem, widely recognized for his innovations in manned tactical fighter jets, aircraft retrofits and mission-conversions, and fixed- and rotary-wing unmanned aerial systems (UASs).
Composite hub yoke machined from composite broadgoods layed up in open-face tooling reduces cost by 50% compared to using closed tooling. V-280 will use reported first all-carbon tiltrotor main blades, built by Eagle Technologies, LLC. The Future Vertical Lift (FVL) program aims to develop new, faster and more agile vertical takeoff and landing (VTOL) aircraft for all of the US armed services in four different sizes: light, medium, heavy and ultra. The precursor for the FVL is the Joint Multi-Role (JMR) Technology Demonstrator (TD) phase. Unlike the V-22, which is credited with completing nearly 200,000 flight hours, the V-280’s engines do not rotate.
The composite components are also reported to be more unitized, enabling fewer, larger and lighter parts, made possible by Large Cell Carbon Core technology which is described as stiff and lightweight carbon fiber honeycomb sandwich construction. Bell Helicopter’s major components include the carbon-fiber composite wing, prop rotor gearbox and composite yoke for the rotor hub. The hub yoke is said to be layed up from composite broadgoods in open-face tooling and machined around the edges for a 50% cost reduction compared to using closed tooling, according to Flail. Eagle Technologies, LLC (Newport News, VA, US) will manufacture the all-carbon fiber composite tiltrotor blades. GKN (Redditch, UK) is using a combination of metals and composites to produce the V-tail structure and ruddervators, which are designed to provide advanced maneuverability and control to the airframe. AGC Composites and Aerostructures (Oklahoma City, OK, US) is manufacturing the over wing fairing. Phil Anderson, senior VP of defense and contracts at Spirit AeroSystems, says the company's automated fiber placement machines deliver cost-effective, large carbon fiber parts.
Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI, Tel Aviv, Israel) is supplying hardware which Bell is using to build the nacelles in its Amarillo plant. IAI is also supplying the seats, which reportedly use wireless technology to charge troops’ radios. General Electric (Cincinnati, OH, US) is supplying the T64 engine for the demonstrator, which is reportedly through overhaul and acceptance testing at MCAS Cherry Point, North Carolina. Though Bell produces the V-22 in partnership with Boeing, for the JMR-TD the two companies are competitors, Boeing having teamed with Sikorsky to produce the SB-1 Defiant. The V-280 was officially unveiled at the 2013 Army Aviation Association of America's Annual Professional Forum and Exposition in Fort Worth, Texas, with a projected first flight in 2017. Stay tuned for a follow-up blog with more details on the Large Cell Carbon Core technology. Comments are reviewed by moderators before they appear to ensure they meet CompositeWorld’s submission guidelines. Future Vertical Lift, and check out Future Vertical Lift on Wikipedia, Youtube, Google News, Google Books, and Twitter on Digplanet.
Future Vertical Lift (FVL) is a plan[1] to develop a family of military helicopters for the United States Armed Forces. After a decade of combat from Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation Enduring Freedom, the U.S. Future Vertical Lift was established in 2009 as an initiative, not yet a solution,[9] by the Secretary of Defense to focus all DoD vertical lift capabilities and technology development, as well as retaining long-term engineering capabilities.[10] In October 2011, the Deputy Secretary of Defense issued the FVL Strategic Plan to outline a joint approach for the next generation vertical lift aircraft for all military services. In March 2013, the Army asked industry to submit proposals for an effort called the Alternative Engine Conceptual Design and Analysis. Lockheed Martin is developing a single a€?common missions systema€? that could be integrated into FVL light, medium, heavy, and ultra-heavy aircraft.
Sikorsky Aircraft and Boeing are jointly producing a medium-lift-sized demonstrator they call SB>1 Defiant[23][24] (also widely known as "SB-1")[25][26] for phase one of the program. The SB-1 will be quick and nimble, with fast acceleration and deceleration, side-to-side movement, and hovering with the tail up and nose down.[34] The Defiant demonstrator will be powered by the Honeywell T55, which powers the CH-47 Chinook. Karem Aircraft proposed to design an optimum-speed tiltrotor (OSTR), designated the TR36TD demonstrator. EADS was planning to submit a proposal for the JMR Phase I demonstration, expected to have been based on the Eurocopter X3,[42][48] but withdrew in late May 2013 because Eurocopter might have to transfer XA? intellectual property to the US,[49] and to focus on its bids for the Armed Aerial Scout program (later cancelled).[50][51] The company also said the cost of developing a high-speed rotorcraft was far greater than the $75 million funding that would have been awarded. On 5 June 2013, Bell announced that its V-280 Valor design had been selected by the Army for the Joint Multi-Role (JMR) Technology Demonstrator (TD) phase. Submissions for JMR evaluations were to be entered by the four competitors by June 2014, with the Army selecting two to build demonstrators to fly between 2017 and 2019, but the Army may choose a non-JMR vehicle for FVL, and may pursue different types for different FVL classes.
On 11 August 2014, the Army informed the Sikorsky-Boeing and Bell-Lockheed teams that they had chosen the SB-1 Defiant and V-280 Valor to continue with the JMR demonstration program. In early September 2014, a panel of aviation experts advised personnel from the FVL initiative how to avoid mistakes made by previous acquisition efforts, namely the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter. In June 2013, Bell Helicopter (Fort Worth, TX, US) announced that the V-280 Valor design it is co-developing with Lockheed Martin (Bethesda, MD, US) had been selected by the US Army for the JMR-TD.

Bell, which currently produces the V-22 Osprey tiltrotor aircraft for the US Marine Corps and US Air Force, describes the V-280 as a third-generation tiltrotor that incorporates lessons learned from its 55 years of designing and building such aircraft. The roles of those responsible for the primary components and composites technology are outlined below. The wing is reportedly produced in one large piece and is the first use of Large Cell Carbon Core composites, described by Bell’s V280 program director Keith Flail as a sandwich of carbon-fiber skins and honeycomb, achieving simplicity and light weight. He notes that the V-280 will also use the first all-carbon tiltrotor blade for improved reliability, lower cost and greater aerodynamic performance. Eagle has produced the advanced composite main rotor blades for the Sikorsky X2 and S-97 Raider helicopter prototypes and the propeller blades for the Boeing Phantom Eye high altitude long endurance (HALE) unmanned aerial system (UAS), as well as a variety of composite parts for Sikorsky, Boeing, Northrop Grumman and Lockheed Martin, among others. According to Bell V-280 program director Keith Flail, design-to-delivery of the first fuselage took Spirit just 22 months and required minimal tooling. It already supplies crashworthy seats made using advanced composites for the Bell 525 Relentless.
Of course, all of this becomes more interesting with Lockheed Martin’s acquisition of Sikorsky now complete. Bell Helicopter’s CEO John Garrison has said that his team is on schedule, and hitting its affordability and sustainability targets.
The Strategic Plan provided a foundation for replacing the current fleet with advanced capability by shaping the development of vertical lift aircraft for the next 25 to 40 years. Although formal requirements for the FVL family of systems had not yet been set, they will need to have hover, speed, range, payload and fuel efficiency characteristics "beyond any current rotorcraft". Due to the different configurations of the airframe, power outputs from 40 shp to 10,000 shp are being studied. The system could save the Army billions of dollars over the course procurement and sustainment, eliminating the need to train maintenance staff, trainers, and personnel in multiple systems. The last project the companies teamed up for was the RAH-66 Comanche, which started in the 1980s and cost $7 billion before being cancelled in 2004.
Bell sought partners for financial and technological support, although the company did not require assistance.[36] In April 2013, Bell revealed its tiltrotor design, named the Bell V-280 Valor.
Half the drag of the design comes from the fuselage and half from the rotor system, so wind tunnel tests are aiming to reduce drag by a third.
The EADS proposal was not totally based on the X3 design, but did leverage aspects of its technology. The Army classified the offering as a Category I proposal, meaning it is a well-conceived, scientifically or technically sound proposal pertinent to program goals and objectives with applicability to Army mission needs, offered by a responsible contractor with the competent scientific and technical staff supporting resources required to achieve results. Army awarded technology investment agreements to AVX Aircraft, Bell Helicopters, Karem Aircraft, and Sikorsky Aircraft under the Joint Multi-Role Technology Demonstrator Phase I program. The aircraft designs show the Army is pursuing both coaxial and tilt-rotor designs, and preferring larger and established contractors over the smaller entries. Though the program seeks component commonality across the fleet, service leaders identified that different sized aircraft are needed for attack and assault,[clarification needed] so the same airframe may not be used for both missions; other services may also tailor their own FVL-medium variants for specific needs. However, similar to the original aims of the F-35 Lighting II Joint Strike Fighter, the multiple platforms envisioned in the FVL family are being designed not to simply replace older helicopters – but also to take on missions that were previously impossible thanks to the expected range, speed and integration of high-tech systems.
For example, wing skins and ribs are reportedly adhesively bonded together, reducing costs by over 30% vs. He says that two test wing boxes were built to validate manufacturing processes, strength and stiffness.
The company also produces the CH-53K helicopter aft transition unit, a complex fuselage section comprising over 1,000 parts and measuring 6m long by 3m wide and 3m high. These include the Hayden, Idaho site that was previously Unitech Composites (acquired by AGC in 2007), and the AGC Aerospace and Defense headquarters in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. Flail says the nacelles were a challenge because, due to design changes, they were the last to mature, yet needed to be the first released for fabrication.
Though initial supply of materials will be used for the Bell 525 Relentless program, it is expected that the V-280 may also use TCA carbon materials.
The Valor delivers the best value in procurement, operations and support, and force structure, providing increased maintainability, component reliability and systems designed to reduce operational and support costs.
It indicates that 80 percent of decision points for the DoD vertical lift fleet to either extend the life, retire, or replace with a new solution occurring in the next 8a€“10 years. The engine design should be ready by the start of the demonstration phase of the FVL program in 2017. They say that factors outside their control, like budget cuts, "requirement creep", and a long development period caused problems with the Comanche and not team dysfunctionality.
The Boeing-Sikorsky team, pitching the high-speed compound helicopter design based on the X2 prototype, also reported they were invited to negotiate a technology investment agreement for the JMR-TD Phase I program. There are two general types of proposals: tiltrotors with rotors that serve as both rotors and conventional propellers, and compound helicopters that use vertical rotors and separate rear-mounted propellers. After the flight tests and technology development, JMR will end and a Request for Proposals (RFP) will be issued open to all companies to begin the projected $100 billion FVL effort. AVX Aircraft says it is still in negotiations with the Army and believes they can still continue with some level of work on the program.
A higher disk loading means more power is needed to maintain rotor speed, whereas a lower disk loading indicates better lift thrust efficiency.
It features an advanced hybrid composite aluminum and titanium structure covered with external composite skins, with composites making up ≈50% of its weight.

Owned by The Edgewater Funds and Acorn Growth Companies, AGC produces custom, weight-saving composite structures for legacy weapon systems, composite details and assemblies for aircraft currently in production, precision exotic metal assemblies for aircraft engines, and aircraft structural fusion welding (ASFW) on alloy metal parts for aftermarket spare programs.
Flail claims there are only three hard shims used in the whole fuselage, which he says features composite skins over metal frames.
The company also builds major structural cockpit and cabin components for Sikorsky’s CH-53K helicopter fuselage using composites. Flail says this results in increased low-speed agility, and the light loading on the bearings in airplane mode extends their life.
AVX Aircraft and Karem Aircraft are also among the 4 teams awarded technology investment agreement deals by the Army, aiming toward flying technology demonstrators beginning in 2017. Army-centric design, the Bell V-280 has the capacity to perform a multitude of missions with unparalleled speed and agility. The aircraft can carry 12 NATO litters, have an auxiliary fuel system for self-deployment over distances, and is planned to be capable of being optionally manned. Karem says its variable-speed OSTR configuration offers advantages in weight, drive train, and aerodynamic and propulsive efficiency. The wing pivoted in pitch for addition flight control and to reduce rotor download in the hover. JMR-TD contracts were expected to be awarded in September 2013, with flights scheduled for 2017.[55][56][57] AVX Aircraft also confirmed that it had been selected for the JMR Phase I as a Category I participant.
AVX and Sikorsky are offering compound designs with two counter-rotating rotors to provide vertical lift.
Demonstrators developed under JMR will be "X-planes" to demonstrate some key technologies, but they won't have production-representative engines or real mission systems architecture; JMR will show off technologies to enable Army rotary-wing aviation to make the next leap in speed, lift, protection, and interoperability under FVL for the 2030s. Official word of the downselect was to be announced in late August once negotiations had been finalized.[75] The Army formally announced the selection of the Sikorsky-Boeing SB-1 and Bell-Lockheed V-280 on 3 October 2014. FVL is seeking to develop four separate lift classes, which may even become five if the program includes medium lift aircraft for the Navy and U.S.
In other words, the V-280 should deliver more operational efficiency without a drastically higher price tag. The first fuselage is now at Bell’s Amarillo, Texas facility undergoing final assembly. The Bell V-280's clean sheet design reduces complexity compared to previous generation tiltrotors, with fewer parts, as well as non-rotating, fixed engines. Manufacturers have been remanufacturing and upgrading existing families of aircraft without creating original platforms. It has high speed, "robust" hover performance at altitude, higher climb rate and sustained maneuverability, and longer range than other vertical-takeoff-and-landing configurations.
Their entry is a coaxial-rotor compound helicopter with ducted fans for propulsion and small wings to offload the rotors at high speed. For forward movement, AVX uses two ducted fans and Sikorsky uses a single propeller on the back. The program is intentionally slow paced partly due to the challenges seen in the Joint Strike Fighter program[68][69] and failures of past programs like Future Combat Systems, which was cancelled after complex requirements couldna€™t be met within established budgets and timelines.
Both teams will now build technology demonstration aircraft with flight tests starting in 2017.
Marine Corps, so the sheer diversity of requirements casts doubt that a single program can successfully produce different versions of a given design.
The Future Vertical Lift (FVL) concept is to create a new rotorcraft that uses new technology, materials, and designs that are quicker, have further range, better payload, are more reliable, easier to maintain and operate, have lower operating costs, and can reduce logistical footprints. Test aircraft will be equipped with current GE T706 engines, but AVX is looking to equip their design with the Advanced Affordable Turbine Engine with its higher 4,800 hp output. One main problem the F-35 program encountered was having a single program to try to meet different needs with variants of one design. AVX has teamed with Rockwell Collins, General Electric, and BAE Systems.[7] It features entry doors on both sides of the fuselage with a large rear ramp for easy cargo handling.
Karem Aircraft is offering a tiltrotor with optimum-speed rotors, allowing the aircraft to speed or slow the propellers depending on speed or efficiency demands. It is possible for FVL to avoid this and still meet it primary goals of using common drive trains, engines, and communications across different helicopters in different services; although the Army's Apache and Black Hawk designs are entirely different, the Marines' UH-1Y Venom utility and AH-1Z Viper attack helicopters have 85 percent parts commonality despite using different airframes. Both versions have retractable landing gear, and the attack variant carries all armaments stored inside until needed to provide a clean aerodynamic design.[11] The company refers to the unnamed concept as an "innovative compound coaxial helicopter" capable of achieving 80 percent of the speed of the V-22 Osprey at half the cost. Money and time could be saved by using available technologies from commercial helicopter manufacturers, which was impossible to do with the high-performance F-35. JMR-TD is not to develop a prototype for the next family of vehicles or pre-select an airframe for FVL, but to develop and demonstrate an operationally representative mix of capabilities, technologies, and interfaces to investigate realistic design trades and enabling technologies. Even though the JSF has secured international partners and FVL has none, partners would be welcomed once the program officially starts, and pre-acquisition industry-to-industry cooperation was advised before government-to-government agreements occur. The TIAs give the four teams nine months to complete preliminary design of their rotorcraft, which the Army will then review and authorize the construction of two competing demonstrators to fly in 2017. While there was a potential for an early downselect, the four teams are focused on the 2017 flight demonstrations.

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