Vertical Envelopment and the Future Transport Rotorcraft
Operational Considerations for the Objective Force
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The Future Transport Rotorcraft (FTR) is a proposed heavy-lift helicopter capable of transporting the Army's Future Combat System (FCS) family of combat vehicles. Wargame and simulation models have shown significant benefit to the military if the FCS can be deployed behind enemy lines in a concept known as "vertical envelopment." Preliminary analysis indicates that the FTR must transport a 20-ton payload to a radius of 500 kilometers in an all-vertical mode. The authors review RAND Arroyo Center's analysis of the engineering, operational, and survivability risks associated with the FTR. The research shows that the success of the FDR's development depends upon engineers being able to surpass a wide range of historical trends in the design of rotorcraft technology. Further, survivability concerns imply that the FTR will not have free range on the battlefield and that operational flexibility will have to be reduced to ensure survivability. The authors recommend that efforts to conduct detailed studies of FTR design remain open to a wide range of options, including alternatives to rotorcraft. They further argue that the FTR would address only one aspect of the Army's overall problem in rapidly deploying the FCS from home station to the battlefield.