QUANTICO, Va--The Marine Corps on Monday detailed its program to find a new Attack Utility Replacement Aircraft (AURA) that will likely replace its AH-1Z and UH-1Y helicopters, with plans to award contracts through 2023 to advance concept designs.
The AURA effort is likely to pull from the Army’s experience working toward its next-generational Future Vertical Lift platforms, while the Marine Corps also looks for a new platform capable of reaching extended ranges and speed to keep up with its V-22 tiltrotor aircraft.
Naval Air Systems Command released a Request for Information for AURA, which lays out plans to award contracts to multiple vendors to mature engineering and technology development, as well as to study potential air vehicle designs.
Todd Worden, Bell’s [TXT] senior manager for advanced vertical lift systems, told Defense Daily Tuesday at the Modern Day Marine conference here the company is considering the RFI and could look to offer its V-280 Valor tiltrotor aircraft as the program comes together.
“Our team is back at homebase in Fort Worth, [Texas], decomposing that right now to understand what’s being asked. So we’re looking to respond that,” Worden said.
Worden noted that the Marine Corps has closely watched the Army’s Joint Multi-Role Technology Demonstration effort to inform its Future Long Range Assault Aircraft requirements. Bell’s V-280 participated in the JMR-TD program along with the Boeing [BA]-Sikorsky SB-1 Defiant.
“We see AURA maybe as a potential path. So you have JMR-TD with the V-280 and that as a competitor for the [Army’s] Future Long Range Assault Aircraft, but that same aircraft could potentially also be used to move over and meet the AURA aircraft as well,” Worden told Defense Daily. “For a Marine Corps platform, we can look at an aircraft that is probably going to require a blade fold/wing stow like the V-22. It’ll probably need that type of capability.”
The Marine Corps is requiring industry to reach out to receive the full RFI, with responses due for parts of the document on Nov. 22 and the remaining sections on Jan. 1.