The United States Army in its bid to keep its FARA (Future Attack Reconnaissance Aircraft) choppers and current aviation fleet in tune with each other, is reportedly planning to field its Aviation Mission Common Server (AMCS), labeled the ‘Clouds in the Sky’ by the end of 2024.
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With the US Army already initiating work on the induction of a Future Attack Reconnaissance Aircraft and a Future Long-Range Assault Aircraft (FLRAA) by the end of the decade, it feels the need for the ACMS to integrate the two different generations of jets.
The AMCS when finished will act as a user interface, serving as a stack of storage, data processing, and transport capability, and will be on board every craft possessed by the military.
According to multiple press reports, OTA (Other Transaction Authority) contracts worth $3.3 Million for the ‘Clouds in the Sky’ was awarded to three vendors Elbit Systems, Mercury Systems, and Physical Optics Corp. According to a statement issued by US Army Spokesperson David Hylton,
“Other transaction authority contracts through the Army Contracting Command’s New Jersey Centre were awarded to three vendors in July, and they will hit the ground running to conduct analysis for an Aviation Mission Common Server, or AMCS.”
Then-Program Executive Officer for Army Aviation, Major General Thomas Todd, while speaking to the press agencies earlier, had said that the AMCS server will be “very much a flying cloud”, and will serve as the main engine driving the user interface and apps, while providing connectivity to the network.
The US Army expects the future helicopters (FARA and FLRAA) to fly alongside the current fleet of aircraft and work in coordination in operational environments across multiple domains.
The program of developing or buying the FARAs has been more or less to replace their UH-60 Black Hawk helicopters or maybe work alongside them. The FARAs and FLRAAs are poised to be inducted into the United States Army by 2030.
“We have to figure out a way to host a common server so that we can store data, process data and transport data quicker. So while they work on the future vertical lift architecture, we still have to make the enduring fleet that will fly alongside it, work and be capable,” said Todd.
According to Director of Army Aviation inside the Pentagon, Brigadier General Michael McCurry, the user interface of the AMSC will be built on the technology developed by American global aerospace and defense technology giant, Northrop Grumman.
“The user interface will be built upon the technology developed by Northrop Grumman for the Victor-model Black Hawk. The “V” model is an L-model UH-60 with a digital, modern cockpit like the “M” model, the latest Black Hawk variant, but not with an M-model price tag. Additionally, the interface in a V model can take on new capability through apps like a smartphone.” said McCurry
Around 13 months are required to carry out complete analysis by the US Army after which the program will move on the design phase, before conducting a demonstration. Hylton says that the three vendors kicked off contract meetings in July.
“The contracts cover only the analysis phase of the effort. The next stage will cover a preliminary design followed by a critical design stage. A demonstration will be held as the fourth stage of the plan. In the final stage, the Army will conduct qualification testing. At the end of the final stage, the Army will receive production-representative AMCS prototype hardware line-replaceable units, components and software.” said Hylton.
The program to build the AMCS is to assure that the current fleet of aircraft are able to participate in multi-domain operations, with the US Army seeking to obtain multi-domain dominance by 2030.