Italy wants to board Sikorsky's S-97 Raider as part of the US Army's FVL program

Many were waiting for the winner of the Future Long Range Airborne Assault program, or FLRAA, one of the pillars of the US Army's Future Vertical Lift program, to be announced at the AUSA show in Washington, some of whose points we have mentioned several times. keys in recent days. But they were disappointed when the US Army Chief of Staff, General James McConville, announced at the US Army conference for the opening of this event, that the decision would be announced “within a few months”. But for General Luca Goretti, Chief of Staff of the Italian Air Force, it seems that the choice has already been made. Indeed, this one declared vis-a-vis the specialized US press, that it intended to make get Italy on board the FLRAA program, if it were to choose the Sikorsky S-97 Raider equipped with contra-rotating rotors facing Bell's V-280 Valor based on the principle of tilting rotors, like the V-22 Osprey.

For the Italian Chief of Staff, in fact, the Raider offers very interesting performances and technological opportunities for the Italian armies, but also for the country's aeronautical industry, which already has expertise in the field of rotors are rocking with the AW609, a prototype which made its first flight in 2003 and which, so far, has not succeeded in convincing the Italian military. It is possible that the loss of the second prototype in an accident in 2015 eroded confidence in this technological approach in the country. But the main interest developed by General Goretti during the interview did not relate to any capability or operational aspect. It was indeed purely commercial, Rome is indeed very satisfied with its participation in the F-35 program while the Swiss and German aircraft will be assembled and maintained by the Cameri factory, west of Milan. Thus, according to the vision developed by the Italian general, Italian participation within the framework of the FLRAA program would allow Rome to strengthen its positions in Europe, and to act as a technological and commercial hub on the old continent for promote the American model to other armies, while specifying that, as was the case with the Typhoon, Italy also intended to participate in European programs in this area.

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The Bell V280 Valor participates in the FLRAA competition to replace the UH60 Black Hawk

By positioning itself in this way, Rome seeks above all to consolidate its long-standing and indeed fruitful partnerships with the American defense industry in order to establish itself in Europe. Thus many of the Italian helicopters designed by Agusta were American models under license or derived from them, and that Rome managed to impose, in 1958, the G-91 as NATO's standard light fighter, despite inferior in performance to the British or French models, in particular compared to the Dassault Etendard also offered in the context of this competition. Italian-American cooperation extended over the years to other areas, such as missiles with the design of the Aspide derived from the Sea Sparrow, or radars and detection systems. In recent years, between the profits collected within the framework of the F-35 program in Europe, the selection of Austral, a subsidiary of Fincantieri for the production of the LCS class Independence, and the choice of the Italian FREMM model for the design of the class of the US Navy's Constellation frigate, Italian industry is indeed a major beneficiary in the field of cooperation with the United States.

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