Beating the Air into Submission: Investing in Vertical Lift Modernization

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Originally Published on This Site.

By Gabriel Coll, Andrew Philip Hunter, Robert Karlen

When it comes to military aircraft, fighters and bombers receive most of the attention. Discussions of next- generation aircraft, for example, tend to focus on sixth- generation fighters and the B-21 bomber. However, vertical lift aircraft (including tiltrotors, such as V-22 Ospreys, and helicopters, such as UH-60 Blackhawks) also play a fundamental national security role.

Photo: DoD

There are almost as many tiltrotors and helicopters in the U.S. military as there are all other types of manned combat aircraft combined.1 The size of the U.S. vertical lift fleet, alone, would still put the United States well ahead of Russia with the world’s largest air force.2 In fact, even after the recent retirement of OH-58 Kiowas, the U.S. Army’s helicopter fleet would be enough to hold the top spot by itself.3 And the Navy, Marines, and Air Force each have sizeable vertical lift fleets of their own that perform important functions, such as anti-submarine warfare, air assault, and combat rescue.

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