Boeing and Sikorsky Name its Next Generation Helicopter

JMR 1Boeing and Sikorsky announced Monday that the two defense industry giants that their team would name their Joint Multi-Role (JMR) helicopter technology demonstrator, Defiant.

Officials from both companies said the name represented the need to defy common technologies and purse a next generation solution to the Army’s helicopter fleet.

The Joint Multi-Role program is designed to replace the Army’s current fleet of Blackhawks, Apaches and Chinooks by the 2030s. Boeing and Sikorsky displayed a model of what their aircraft might look like at the Association of the U.S. Army’s annual conference in Washington D.C. this week.

Army officials want a faster, more fuel-efficient helicopter that could cover a vastly larger mission area. This would increase the combat radius and also improve arrival times for rescues operations and medical evacuations.

A faster helicopter would decrease the need to at times forward position fuel and supplies for crews on longer or extended missions. A big part of the push is to engineer a new helicopter able to reach super high speeds while retaining an ability to hover, service officials explained.

So far, the Army has spent about $20 million on the effort, but plans to spend up to $217 million on air vehicle demonstration efforts and another $70 million on mission equipment technologies such as software, electronics and sensors.

While some of the requirements for the helicopter are still being determined, some early indications call for a high-speed helicopter that can travel at speeds between 170 and 300 knots. In addition, the specifications call for an air vehicle that can fly with a combat radius of 424 kilometers and hover with a full-load at what’s called high/hot conditions – 95-degrees Fahrenheit and altitudes of 6,000 feet.

The Army announced that four teams won $6.5 million contracts for the first development stage the Future Vertical Lift (FVL) initiative. Those four team include Team Defiant as well as Bell Helicpter and Textron as well as AVX Aircraft Co. and Karem Aircraft.

Bell and Textron had a model of their potential aircraft also on display at AUSA.

About the Author

Michael Hoffman
Michael Hoffman is the executive editor at Tandem NSI and a contributor to He can be reached at
  • Steve B.

    This had to be bad reporting.

    It sounds like there’s one program, with one helicopter to replace Apache, Blackhawk and Chinook.

    There’s no possibility for this to succeed

    • FormerDirtDart

      Four size configurations are envisioned:
      -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 Black Hawk and AH-64 Apache; introduction planned for 2027-2028.
      -JMR-Heavy: Cargo version to replace the CH-47 Chinook; introduction planned for 2035.
      -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 and the Airbus A400M Atlas; introduction planned for 2025.

      • blight_

        I hope these aren’t all supposed to have 70% parts commonality and be single-source out of a single program winner.

        What I find pleasing is that they may fork the attack and utility helicopters from common parts, like Cobra/Iroquois. Can’t go wrong there. Unless they want a utility helicopter that fights like a gunship a la Hind or Blackhawk Direct Action Penetrator?

        Presumably no intent to collaborate with the Navy to slot the Heavy in for the Sea Stallion and Ultra for COD?

      • blight_

        Obligatory call to arm the -heavy and -ultra versions.

        If you can kick off missiles and viper strike from a harvest hawk C-130, perhaps these mods could be ported to the heavier versions of JMR? Or a roll-on/roll-off refueling system for JMR-Ultra?

    • tmb2

      You’re right that the program is often poorly described here. The JMR program calls for several different helicopter classes to replace the entire fleet, but they’re toying with the idea of a single airframe replacing the Blackhawk and the Apache. I really hope they don’t think they can put passengers in an attack helicopter.

      This first phase is mostly about figuring out what technologies are possible and affordable and seem to be focused on a Blackhawk replacement.

    • PolicyWonk

      At least they knew enough not to call the program the “Joint Strike Helicopter” ;-P

      OTOH, the Europeans have a chopper already built that pretty much fills the bill - they could build a version of that under license - but then its “Not Invented Here”, and wouldn’t be a likely to get the program managers the cushy defense jobs they want when they retire from the service.

      • FormerDirtDart

        Which European helicopter is already built that pretty much fills the bill?

    • clay

      I think they need to call it the Lokota and i think it looks cool

  • IknowIT

    OK I will bite- Defiant? Really?

  • Gunnie

    Oh dear - sounds like another JSF in the making

    JSH ???


  • CanonCocker

    I’m not so sure this is about one particular helicopter replacing another particular helicopter. The Defiant is more of testing a particular different technology application that can be used on all helicopters. Basically two sets of counter rotating blades and a pusher prop in the back, for more speed better range. I can easily see this applied to an Appache, Blackhawk, Pave Lows, although NOT the Chinook. If Sikorsky is working on it then it has promise of being worth the money.

    • blight_

      Indeed, where would the pusher go on a chinook?

      • FormerDirtDart

        how about two pusher engines?…

    • Aerospace worker

      Well if Boeing is involved, it guaranteed to be an cost-overrun ill fated flop. Just look at Boeings union conflicts to see how well they deal with problems.

  • oblatt1

    The next generation is absolutely guaranteed to have lower capabilities than the Chinook, blackhawk and Apache. Its driven by the simple needs of the contractors to lower quality and deliver less for more.

    Start looking for fanciful stories about how it can drop off a truck and then perform as a gunship before medivacing.


    Boeing has always made the strangest looking aircraft.

  • Bman

    Are we ever going to see something similar to the Commanche? That was one awesome machine that never got to see the light of day. I hope the Attack and/or scout versions will use different stealth technologies to increase its survivability.

  • FormerDirtDart

    There is, of course. the obvious choice for the JMR-Ultra:…

  • Bill

    Let’s name this helicopter “Fat Cat”. This name would honor all the lobbyist’s
    and Generals, and companies that make a fortune from the poor tax payer.
    If it’s not broke, don’t fix it. The Blackhawk is just fine. Afterall, the taliban
    forrces don’t have any helicopters and are beating us hands down and into the ground.

    • Mark Rukovishnikoff

      Get some!!!!

    • Bob

      Bill, it says that they would replace them by 2030’s What will the blackhawks we have now look like then?

  • Bob

    I understood that the technology would be what replaces all 3 of them, not one helicopter. The technology is a dual rotor and they look like big bad rotors that used in the right size would replace the chinook.

  • helotrekkie

    The last “ship” named Defiant, while only on TV, didn’t fare so well. Hopefully this program won’t disappear! For reference:

  • Wayne

    The new Cheyenne

  • Win

    What happened to the Comanche. Old news I guess.

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