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UK Eyes Joint Multirole, Talks With US

Posted by Richard Whittle on

Prince William in Griffin helicopter

Prince William in Griffin helicopter

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla.: The United Kingdom is following the U.S. Joint Multirole Technology Demonstrator (JMR-TD) project with “great interest” and might either get involved at some point or buy future aircraft the effort spawns, says a top British Defence Ministry rotorcraft engineer.

“It’s a perfectly feasible outcome,” Bryan Finlay, the senior engineer at the UK’s Defence Science and Technology Laboratory, said Wednesday at the American Helicopter Society International’s annual forum. He was replying to a question I put to him.

Finlay said during the panel that the UK has decided it will replace its army’s and its navy’s medium-lift helicopters in the mid-2030s. The JMR-TD aims to prove technologies for a new more capable medium-lift vertical takeoff and landing aircraft to go into operation by 2034. Under the JMR-TD, Bell Helicopter’s new V-280 Valor tiltrotor and Sikorsky and Boeing’s new SB>1 Defiant compound helicopter are to fly next year to start validating new technologies and designs.

Bell V-280 Valor Joint Multi-Role Demonstrator

Bell V-280 Valor Joint Multi-Role Demonstrator

The Sikorsky-Boeing SB-1 Defiant concept for the Joint Multi-Role demonstrator, a predecessor to the Future Vertical Lift aircraft.

Sikorsky-Boeing SB-1 Defiant concept

“Right now we don’t know what the Joint Multirole program’s going to deliver in terms of a platform,” Finlay noted. “Therefore we would wait with great interest.”

But when asked if it was reasonable to expect the UK military to get “involved in some of the deliberations” as the JMR proceeds, Finlay replied: “Absolutely. I think at a military-to-military level that they already have.”


UK and U.S. science and technology engineers such as himself already have, Finlay added. “The S&T guys, we talk to each other all the time, and we’re interested in the geeky stuff, and that’s not a problem,” he said. “But the key to unlocking capabilities is really the military-to-military contact and their understanding. And then of course the politicians.”

Aw, probably makes too much sense.

Full disclosure: The American Helicopter Society International paid for Breaking Defense’s lodging during Forum 72.

What do you think?