Fifth-generation capability is typically focused on large platforms like F-35 and the Navy’s new Air Warfare Destroyers, however Lockheed Martin has hit the ground running in bringing fifth-generation capabilities to Australia’s Land Forces 2018, with the Future Vertical Lift program and Integrated Digital Training Platforms for Army.
Beginning in 2011, the Future Vertical Lift (FVL) program will see next-generation replacements for traditional rotary airframes like the UH-60 Blackhawks, CH-47 Chinook and OH-58 Kiowas. The FVL program is broken down into four key areas, delivering different capability packages, specifically:
- JMR-Light: Scout version to replace the OH-58 Kiowa; introduction planned for 2030;
- JMR-Medium: Utility and attack versions to replace the UH-60 Blackhawk; introduction planned for 2027-28;
- JMR-Heavy: Cargo version to replace the CH-47 Chinook; introduction planned for 2035, although Boeing expects 2060;
- JMR-Ultra: New ultra-sized version for vertical lift aircraft with performance similar to fixed-wing tactical transport aircraft, such as the C-130J Super Hercules with introduction planned for 2025.
Richard Koucheravy, director, business development, future vertical lift, explained Lockheed Martin's offerings for the FVL program, the S-97 Raider and SB-1 Defiant, as game changers for tactical operations.
"Both the S-97 Raider and SB-1 Defiant will provide improved workload for pilots and flight crew, operational range, payload and tactical benefits for the future force," he said.
Raider is a next-generation light tactical prototype helicopter capable of carrying six troops and external weapons that will redefine helicopter flight during the 21st century. The Defiant is a next-generation medium tactical lift prototype helicopter, capable of carrying up to 12 troops and four aircrew. Both aircraft utilise the proprietary X-2 counter-rotating coaxial main rotors and pusher propeller system, designed by Lockheed Martin subsidiary Sikorsky, which provides improved range, speed and payload for both platforms.
Neale Prescott, business development director, Lockheed Martin Rotary Mission Systems (RMS), explained, "By the time the ADF begins its evaluation process to replace its current fleet of rotary aircraft in the early 2020s, both Raider and Defiant will be mature technology suites. In the Australian context, both platforms are extremely relevant for Army, with future opportunities for Navy, the systems provide tactical advantages including speed, capacity, simply put, it is a marked step in performance."
Koucheravy went further, explaining that both Raider and Defiant will provide fifth-generation capabilities to Australian and allied land forces, through the growing importance of systems integration, sensor fusion, payload and the ability of the aircraft to be based outside increasingly contest integrated air defence networks employed by adversaries.
"It is anticipated that Raider will step in and supplement the Apache in the fire support role, while Defiant will step in to replace Blackhawk in the tactical airlift through increased range, payload and speed," he said.
Lockheed, as one of the largest land training providers in the world, with training programs and facilities in the UK, Middle East and Australia, is bringing a suite of innovative technologies to Australia to help support Army's transition to a fifth-generation combat force, ensuring that the average soldier and Army aren't left behind as both Navy and Air Force take delivery of such systems.
Lockheed Martin’s Digital Instrumented Ranges (DIR) provides an immersive train-as-you-fight environment for all vehicle crews. Training includes Abrams, Bradley and Stryker operations and dismount integration. DIR integrates gunnery and tactical systems for individual and crew qualification and platoon-level collective training. The system also integrates Apache live fire for air-to-ground training scenarios.
- Facilities – Range operations centres, after-action-review theatres and battle position facades, including buildings and trenches;
- Hardware – Digital interface, cameras, data recording equipment and targetry systems with audio visual effects; and
- Software – Scenario development, system control, exercise control and after-action-review production with Perspective.
Jeanine Matthews, vice president, strategy and business development, training and logistics solutions, explained: "We are seeing Navy and Air Force get some incredible fifth-generation capabilities, so we had to stop and ask, what is Army getting? How are they getting prepared, how are they going to integrate into this fifth-generation combat force?"
In response, Lockheed has rolled out a suite of programs to help the Australian Army transition its key capabilities of today and into the future to be part of the integrated force, focused on ensuring that Army can develop the capabilities of today, while also focusing on tackling the future challenges it may face.
Lockheed Martin’s 3D digital Perspective software provides a virtual view of the battlespace, showing vehicles’ locations on the range from multiple viewpoints, targetry status, weapons system orientation and fire control date, engagement metrics and more. This information combines to create superior exercise planning and control as well as after-action-review for instructors and Warfighters. Perspective also provides range layout, design efforts and mission rehearsal.
Lockheed Martin’s DIR integrates gunnery and tactical systems for individual and crew qualification and platoon-level collective training. The system also integrates Apache live fire for air-to-ground training scenarios.
DIRs are designed to be flexible, as a result, training scenarios can incorporate technology advances from Lockheed Martin’s suite of live training products – including urban training solutions, targetry and Multiple Integrated Laser Engagement Systems (MILES) programs – to support DIR user needs.
"What we have seen [is] our partners, like Singapore, the US Marines and Australian Army, like having the blend of traditional analog training ranges and the new digital ranges which allow for constant data analytics, variable input and mission feedback. This allows commanders to pull out unit performance, tailor training suites to weaknesses detected in the digital training platforms, enhance unit co-ordination and co-operation and assess the success of mission completion," said David Fallon, business development manager, Australia and New Zealand.
The digital training platforms provide the opportunity for distributed training models, allowing for units around the country, operating different platforms, to train as part of an integrated, combined arms structure, essentially marking the beginning of Army's transition to a fifth-generation combat force.