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Assessment of Navy Heavy-Lift Aircraft Options
RAND NATIONAL DEFENSE RESEARCH INST SANTA MONICA CA
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Helicopters have gradually become able to carry more and heavier cargo, including vehicles. An aircraft that could carry even more than todays helicopters might be especially valuable when access to on-shore facilities is limited and working from shipboard becomes critical. But questions still exist with regard to heavy-lift aircraft technology Are these aircraft survivable, are they really needed, and are they affordable Can todays ships handle them And can all the services interested in such an aircraft agree on its design and funding The results of this research will help the Navy understand its options as it considers whether it should invest in a new heavy-lift HL aircraft design. The study had two major segments. The first was a technical assessment of the aircraft options. Seven different notional aircraft were examined, ranging from a CH-53 helicopter variant that could be available roughly at the end of this decade, to several large helicopter designs, and finally a four-engine version of a tilt-rotor aircraft. The technical assessment includes estimates of cost and dates when each aircraft could be available. The second portion of the study was a survivability assessment. It is possible that a new HL aircraft could be used in an air-assault mode to transport troops and equipment into hostile territory. The survivability assessment examined the use of this class of aircraft in various tactical situations to assess how it would fare against different levels of threat. In addition to RJARS simulation results, Rand looked for lessons from recent operations in Kosovo, Afghanistan, and Iraq. The overall assessment indicates the following 1 survivability of this class of large aircraft will be very challenging in all but low-threat air-defense environments and 2 recent operations indicate a significant level of hesitancy on the part of senior commanders to employ rotary-wing aircraft, even in relatively low threat situations.
APPROVED FOR PUBLIC RELEASE