Army Vertical Lift Key to Indo-Pacific Strategy
Bell Helicopter photo
WASHINGTON, D.C. — The distances involved in a war in the Pacific are a challenge for any military platform, let alone rotary-wing aircraft. However, Army officials believe the service can exploit gaps in the air domain and challenge adversaries in the Pacific theater with future rotorcraft.
The Army’s requirement is to be able to self-deploy and project force into the Indo-Pacific from Hawaii, said Maj. Gen. Walter Rugen, director of the Future Vertical Lift Cross Functional Team at Army Futures Command. That’s why Future Vertical Lift programs are critical: they provide the speed and range needed to maintain standoff and close distances quickly.
“The current fleet can’t do it. They’re not fast enough, and they can’t fly long enough,” he said at the Association of the United States Army conference in Washington, D.C. In the exhibition hall below were the four aircraft competing for the Future Long Range Assault Aircraft and the Future Attack and Reconnaissance Aircraft programs.
“Those advanced rotorcraft configurations give us the speed and the range to cover Indo-Pacom, [multi-domain operations]-relevant distances,” he said.
“We want to be outside of surface-to-surface fires, we want to be outside of medium-range ballistic missiles,” he said. “And when we sense something — we see a high-payoff target — well then, we’re going to close that, and we can close it faster.”
In addition to new aircraft, the Army is looking for sensing technology, he said.
“We want to sniff things, hear things, feel things, not just see things. So, there’s a lot of other sensors out there that we want to be in every domain,” he said.
More sensors mean more data that the service will have to quickly process using artificial intelligence, he said.
The need for speed is of particular concern because as Russia has shown in Ukraine, adversaries can be indiscriminate with their fires, he said during a panel.
“We’re only going to fire on things … identified as a threat,” he said. “But because of that, we’re behind the eight ball when it comes to agility on the tactical edge.”