In support of the Future Vertical Lift (FVL) Future Long-Range Assault Aircraft (FLRAA) selection program, U.S. Army Redstone Test Center (RTC) Experimental Test Pilots (XPs) conducted flights of the Bell V-280 Valor in August 2020, as part of the U.S. Army Test and Evaluation Command (ATEC) preparations for the FLRAA test effort, a key element of Army Modernization. The CD&RR will extend over two years; informing the final Army requirements and the program of record planned for competition in fiscal year 2022. The FLRAA is on track for full rate production by 2030. On Mar. 16, the U.S. Army awarded Other Transaction Agreement contracts to Bell and Sikorsky for the competitive demonstration and risk reduction (CD&RR) phase of the FLRAA aircraft.
During the week of Aug. 24, Maj. Wesley Paulsen and Mr. Adam Cowan, Army XPs from RTC, trained in the Software Integration Lab at Bell Flight Research Center in Arlington, Texas, before flying the Bell V-280 Valor. RTC, a subordinate organization of ATEC, is the U.S. Army’s primary Test Center for the test and evaluation of aircraft and aviation systems. FVL is a top priority for ATEC and RTC as part of Army Modernization. ATEC provides direct support to Army Futures Command and relevant, timely information to Army senior leaders to make future force decisions enabling Multi-Domain Operations through requisite independent developmental testing and evaluations. ATEC XPs and flight test engineers are embedded in both the FLRAA and the Future Attack Reconnaissance Aircraft (FARA) programs to supporting this important mission in support of Army Modernization efforts.
Paulsen is a 2008 Mechanical Engineering graduate of the U.S. Military Academy. After graduating flight school in 2010, he spent his operational career in the 101st at Fort Campbell, serving as an assault flight platoon leader and company commander. He was deployed twice to Afghanistan. He graduated from USNTPS in 2018. Department of the Army Civilian (DAC) Cowan served in the Army from 1993 to 2013. He flew the UH-60A/L Blackhawk for eight years conducting general aviation support, air assault operations, and MedEvac operations. He flew the RC-12P/Q Guardrail for four years conducting airborne intelligence, surveillance, reconnaissance operations. He deployed to Bosnia, South Korea, Kuwait, and Iraq and graduated from USNTPS in 2008. He became an RTC DAC in 2013 after retiring as a Chief Warrant Officer 4.
U.S. Army experimental test pilots are graduates of the U.S. Naval Test Pilot School (USNTPS) and perform experimental and engineering flight tests. XPs are experienced officers, technical writers and highly proficient aviators. XPs bring a wealth of engineering and operational expertise and are key members of the government and industry combined test teams. XPs can provide early embedded soldier touch points to put system capabilities into mission relevant context and to ensure the warfighter gets the best capabilities possible.In the acquisition process of fielding an aircraft, Army XPs plan, execute, and report on flight test results of the equipment to enable the Program Managers to make informed materiel decisions.