After serving in the US Army for nearly three decades, the venerable American H-60 Black Hawk helicopter is set to retire as the assault chopper of the service branch under a multibillion-dollar program called the Future Long-Range Assault Aircraft (FLRAA). With the future of Army aviation on the line, everyone has different strong opinions on its incoming successor.
The FLRAA Program
In 2019, the Army’s Program Executive Office for Aviation revealed in an unclassified document the technical specifics of the FLRAA project, a part initiative of its Future Vertical Lift. The service looks forward to replacing all its existing helicopters by 2030—including the UH-60 Black Hawk. Accordingly, the Army wants its next-generation aircraft to have a top speed of 250-280 knots (over 285-320 miles per hour) compared to Black Hawk’s sub 200 mph speed performance. It also stated that it requires an unrefueled combat radius of up to 300 nautical miles, with a range threshold of at least 1,725 nmi and possibly up to 2,440 nmi.
Moreover, the Army requires the helicopter to accommodate up to 12 passengers in crash-resistant seats with a carrying capacity of up to 4,000 pounds and external cargo that could lug around 10,000 to 13,100 pounds. If possible, the service branch wants a chopper capable of operating in extreme weather and high-altitude environments without losing power.
The FLRAAs should also have a long-lasting service life, ideally around 50 years, with the help of future upgrades to “increase capability and maintain relevancy” as the technology moves along with time.