Utilizing next-gen rotorcraft will give an advantage in a conflict with Russia or China because the airlifters are not limited to runways. Large American bases are vulnerable to attack from Chinese and Russian forces with no assurance that current equipment can stay intact to deliver supplies.
In a conflict, the US Air Force will need to manage all assets between its allies and partners. One of the most threatened at airbases is the aircraft which does the hauling, reported Defense News.
Not all locations are big bases that have runways and airfields in a wartime scenario according to Lt. Gen. Warren Berry. Concerns of logistics and protection of forces come into play.
He added that there is a need to get airlift operations that are not done by aircraft that is bound to airstrips. It is a way of doing airfield recovery with equipment that is lighter and leaner that is operational anywhere. Another important aspect is equipment that can be mobilized with fewer fuel costs.
One aspect is Agility Prime that will be used for flying cars in the commercial sector, which is in the experimental stage. These vehicles will be in use for logistics, moving troops to locales, search and rescue as the operations which they will be involved in, cited Aviation Today.
Emphasis on the Army's future vertical lift effort or FVL, according to Gen. Berry. He said that it is one of the technologies that will be important that will enable airlift in a non-traditional way.
Options are wanted by the army to get different types of FVL development programs as choices to be selected from. These next-generation long-range assault aircraft is the next workhorse when the UH-60 Black Hawk utility helicopter is retired by the army. Next-generation aircraft will be in service by 2030 as the army is letting two teams at Bell Helicopter and Sikorsky Boeing. The two-competing rotorcraft will be the V-280 Valor and SB-1 Defiant which are vying to gain the contract for production mentioned Breaking Defense.
Another is the future attack reconnaissance aircraft that will take on the task of AH-64E Apaches and shadow drones. The OH-58D Kiowa Warrior was deactivated in 2017 but contracts with Sikorsky and Bell to get prototypes up by 2028.
More systems other than future vertical lift effort are on the table to improve US force combat capability. One is the Air Force and Army development of Counter-Small Unmanned Aircraft Systems Office on how to counter small drones that operate against US Bases.
It is important to have the proper resources and equipment to get the force forward to accomplish their missions. Airmen need to be adequately supplied on the part of the airbase air defense as one of the missions, implementing all aspects of operations.
Last June, the office showcased to the Defense Department their plan to gather counter-UAS technologies from about 40 systems to 8 possible systems. There are several systems and solutions like the Negation of Improvised Non-State Joint Aerial-Threats, or NINJA which cancels the signal of the drone to the operator.
Berry said the Air Force has assigned some personnel to the counter-UAS office to keep the army in synch.
The next high-tech rotorcraft will be a need with UAS (unmanned aircraft systems) as the next programs of the Air force.