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US, UK agree Future Vertical Lift program cooperation

FVL contenders
Photo: Bell and Sikorsky via US Army

Army leaders from the United States and United Kingdom have signed a Future Vertical Lift “cooperative program feasibility assessment project arrangement,” pledging to work together to ensure interoperability between the two nations’ future rotorcraft aviation forces.

The agreement was signed in London, UK, on February 14.

Signed by Maj. Gen. Walter “Wally” Rugen, the US Army Future Command’s Future Vertical Lift Cross-Functional Team director, and Major-General James Bowder, Director Futures, the arrangement will see the two nations share information about their future rotorcraft requirements and programs.

They will also explore and analyze new concepts for the employment of coalition air power in the lower-tier air domain, the air space where army aviation typically operates.

Through this joint analysis, the US and UK will be able to assess the benefits, risks and overall feasibility of rotorcraft cooperation between the two allies.

This arrangement is in addition to an already existing partnership the UK has with the US Army and Navy that aims to reduce the divergence between the two countries’ open-system architectures, a key component to keeping pace with emerging technology and rapid adaptability and capability evolution.

According to the US Army, the agreed program objectives include identifying opportunities to reduce future rotorcraft program cost, schedule and performance risk, as well as enabling and improving rotorcraft interoperability and integration between the armed forces.

The agreement will also develop plans for cooperation in future phases of the US FVL program, in addition to providing the two nations with information to use in their respective national decision-making processes.

The FVL agreement follows a pact from July 2020, when the UK armed forces minister James Heappey and US Army secretary Ryan McCarthy signed a memorandum of agreement on joint modernization of both the British and US Army.

“The Army completed Project Convergence 21 – our largest joint experiment in 15 years – last fall, and this year PC22 will include allied nations,” Rugen said. “Arrangements like these will ultimately improve our capabilities and strengthen our forces, focusing on joint lethality, survivability and reach, while ensuring affordability for both our countries.”