The deputy commander of the United States Pacific Command has suggested that the United States Army must utilize innovative aircrafts with increased speed, range, as well as survivability than is currently attainable with today’s helicopter offerings. Lt Gen Tony Crutchfield has said that the long distances across the Pacific Ocean are a challenge for the current generation of army rotorcraft, specifically the UH-60 Black Hawk, AH-6 Little Bird, AH-64 Apache, as well as the CH-47 Chinook. All of these rotorcrafts were adopted in the last century. The proliferation of anti-aircraft weaponry has also posed as a challenge to these existing rotorcrafts.
“I firmly believe the only way we will close the gap with the problems facing us today is with Future Vertical Lift (FVL),”
Crutchfield said as he spoke about the army-led acquisition program which will incorporate a new family of aircrafts capable of reaching double the speed and range of current models.
“We must have Future Vertical Lift,”
“It is the only way we will be successful in the PACOM environment with the distances. That range and that speed and that survivability are critical to army aviation to be effective in this fight.”
Lt Gen Tony Crutchfield spoke on April 30th in Atlanta, Georgia, at the Army Aviation Association of America conference. He believes that range and speed are key areas to focus on if the United States Army intends on rapidly responding to a crisis or contingency operation over the South China Sea. This region is where China has been establishing man-made islands in attempts to forward operating locations as well as to increase its disputed territorial claims. Crutchfield is concerned that the United States Army may arrive “late to need” in the event of a natural disaster such as earthquakes and hurricanes, which are fairly common in this region.
“We have to be able to go further and stay longer. It must be swift because lives depend on it,”
“We must do all this in an expeditionary way because we are an expeditionary army.”
“I want to emphasise that our job and our mission is to support the soldier whose operational job is to destroy our nation’s foes in close ground combat,”
added Brig Gen Erik Peterson.
“We have to have the capability, the agility, the manoeuvrability and power to be in the right place at the right time to deliver infiltration, exfiltration, reconnaissance and precision fires. We’re not prepared to sacrifice manoeuvrability or agility in the terminal area.”