Army FLRAA Moves Forward with Valor and Defiant


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“The U.S. Army’s Future Long Range Assault Aircraft (FLRAA) program has made significant progress with the March 16 award of contracts to bidders Bell and Sikorsky/Boeing. The contracts cover competitive demonstration and risk reduction (CD&RR) work associated with the Bell V-280 Valor and Sikorsky/Boeing SB>1 Defiant. With the awards, these two types become the official contenders for the FLRAA selection, which is intended to find a replacement for the Sikorsky UH-60 Black Hawk….”

Written by David Donald, March 17, 2020

There’s an old saying about the Blackhawks (1980’s vintage). It goes “when the last Blackhawk is retired, it will be transported to the scrapyard slung under a Huey”. That applies here.

Since the Huey’s are 1960’s vintage, the point is that the new heli’s just don’t seem to be as robust and repairable as the latest machines. The UH-1 (Hueys) were designed to last 10 years but there are thousands of them still beating the sky into submission, 50 years later.

This machine (and the SB>1) both look very elaborate and more difficult to maintain. They will live out their short services lives and then be scrapped. Nobody will consider extending the operational life of these machines.

“By early October 2019, the fleet of 375 Ospreys in service surpassed the 500,000 flight hour mark.”
The V-22 Ospreys have about 1000-3000 hours and are experiencing their “mid-life upgrade”.


Many Hueys were kept in service for 25 to 30 years, operating 500-2000 hours per year. They were effective in 1960’s combat and robust when damaged. In today’s combat the Hueys are too slow, I get that, but the Osprey and the Defiant are not the answer. They are not robust.

These speed demon helicopters will be terrifying gunships, but they won’t last 5000 hours before they exhaust their serviceable life. Oh, and once you put all the blisters and weapons and pods and stuff on the outside, they’ll fly 50 knots slower than “clean”.

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