Market opportunities for the Army's helicopter fleet will average about $10 billion per year over the next decade as the service modernizes its rotary-wing assets, according to analysts.
The current inventory includes UH-60 Black Hawk utility helicopters, AH-46 Apache attack helicopters, CH-47 Chinook heavy-lift helicopters and UH-72 Lakota light utility helicopters. All but the Lakota are still in production today.
Meanwhile, future vertical lift is one of the Army's top three modernization priorities, and it is pursuing two new aircraft: an armed scout platform known as the future attack reconnaissance aircraft, or FARA, and the future long-range assault aircraft, or FLRAA.
"The Army's effort to develop and field the next generation of vertical lift aircraft ... will have significant implications for the industrial base," defense analysts Andrew Hunter and Rhys McCormick wrote in a recent report for the Center for Strategic and International Studies.
"Projections show that although there will be a drop-off in the procurement of legacy aircraft in the mid-2020s as FARA and FLRAA full-rate production starts to ramp up, there is still a roughly $8 billion to $10 billion annual addressable Army vertical lift market over the next decade," they said in the report titled, "Assessing the Industrial Base Implications of the Army's Future Vertical Lift Plans."
FLRAA has an estimated program value of $40 billion, while FARA could be worth about $20 billion.
In March, the Army announced it had selected Bell and a Sikorsky-Boeing team for the FLRAA competitive demonstration and risk reduction effort. The winner of that phase is expected to be selected in fiscal year 2022.
The service also picked Bell and Sikorsky to continue on in the competition for the future attack reconnaissance aircraft. A "flyoff" for the FARA competition is scheduled for fiscal year 2023, with a production decision expected in fiscal year 2024.
Both the FARA and FLRAA platforms are slated to enter production later this decade.
Meanwhile, operation and sustainment costs will remain the largest source of Army vertical lift spending over the next 10 years, according to the CSIS report.
"There's going to be opportunity [for industry] in kind of the...