The US seems to be forging ahead with a number of vertical lift innovations.
Moving on from the Sikorsky X2 demonstrator is the Light Tactical Helicopter
Boeing is not standing still either and building a reduced scale telescoping-blade disc-rotor model for wind tunnel testing next year under DARPA’s DiscRotor program to demonstrate technology for a high-speed VTOL combat search-and-rescue aircraft.
Meanwhile, the first Merlin HM2 upgrade has taken to the sky. Of the 44 Merlin HM1 purchased, 2 have been lost in accidents and 4 are in storage.
In January 2006, Lockheed Martin UK was awarded the contract for the Merlin capability sustainment plus (CSP) upgrade programme. The programme is planned to sustain capability until the planned 2030 out-of-service date.
The upgrades include: the introduction of open systems architecture, improvements to mission system processing, new touch-screen flat-panel flight displays and upgrades to the Blue Kestrel radar and sonar systems. Entry into service for the upgraded helicopter is planned for 2013.
Only 30 of the remaining 38 aircraft are being upgraded to HM2 level, no news yet on what is happening to the 8 not being upgraded and the 4 in storage but it is expected that some will replace the Sea King ASaC Mk7 and the remainder may be used for SAR, if the SAR PFI deal is stopped.