Annex E. International Armaments Strategy
Army Science and Technology Master Plan (ASTMP 1997)

C. Air and Space Vehicles

Rotorcraft are of particular interest to the Army. They are, and will remain, essential for a variety of critical scout, transport, and combat missions. The operational flexibility afforded by VTOL capabilities has created growing civil and military markets, particularly in third world nations. As a result, the helicopter industry has become highly internationalized and interdependent. In addition to the capabilities in the US/Canadian industrial base, Germany, France, the UK, Russia and Italy are all capable of designing and producing state-of-the-art military rotorcraft. Japan, Maylasia, India, South Africa, and the PRC all have substantial capabilities for rotorcraft production. India and South Africa have indigenous military helicopter development programs.

Competition for international military sales is intense, and marketing rights and export prospects have affected a number of development decisions, particularly in international programs. Such market forces continue to push world-wide developments. Foreign capabilities may offer opportunities to reduce the cost of improving each of the key technology subareas: aeromechanics, flight control, structures (including survivability and as a major consideration signature reduction), and subsystems. Table E.II-2 below summarizes potential prospects.

Table E.II-2. Air and Space Vehicles

AERODYNAMICS Rotorcraft design Rotorcraft CFD Rotorcraft Italy Israel Sweden Aeromechanical design CFD Hypervelocity   Russia Wind tunnel test facilities
FLIGHT CONTROLS Active harmonic control adaptive controls; Fly-by-light Control theory Sweden Adaptive controls      

Crash survivability C-C matrix ceramic Smart structures
Smart structures Fatigue Canada Fracture/fatigue analysis
Italy Rotorcraft structures
Ceramics Composite materials and structures Malaysia China rotorcraft Russia Rotorcraft structures; Ti and steel alloy structures
SUBSYSTEMS FADEC Rotor systems Advanced cockpit systems Israel Advanced cockpit systems Avionics cockpit systems

The proliferation of low-cost high-performance computing systems has lead to a growing worldwide interest in CFD. Advanced composite structures and fly-by-wire/light are becoming common in international aircraft. Technologies for military systems reside principally in the few countries that produce military helicopters. Predominant among these are France, Germany, the U.K., and Italy.

Areas of foreign research include advanced rotor design (U.K., France, and Germany) incorporating features like bearingless hub design with reduced observables and improved reliability and ballistic survivability. French capabilities in carbon ceramic and crash survivable structures are considered world class. UK work in rotor blades, harmonic controls, and full authority digital engine control (FADEC) are also significant. The following highlights specific areas where existing or near-term pending agreements offer significant opportunities for advances in each of these areas. Access to Russia's extensive wind tunnel and aerodynamic testing facilities may offer near-term potential benefits. Longer term advances in so-called digital wind tunnel technology may educe the need for extensive wind tunnel testing. Russia has also fielded some of the most capable military rotorcraft in terms of aerodynamic performance (speed and lift capability).