Maj. Gen. Michael Keating, UK Army Air Corps, Deputy Commander for Support (UK) of US Army III Corps and Fort Hood, provided several, succinct lessons-learned from current global operations that captured the attention of attendees at Vertical Flight Society Forum 78’s opening general session in Fort Worth, Texas. Noting that his keynote contained comments that were his own, and should not be attributed to any government, the senior British general offered the first lesson learned from the 75-plus days of the Russian invasion of Ukraine was “the gross complacency on behalf of the Russians to the nature of the fight.” And while saying the degree of Ukraine resistance is nothing less than “awe inspiring,” he added, the enemy, Ukraine in this instance, “gets the vote, and an opposing force may not always be able to stay ‘in the technology wrap’,” having great implications for how services must train and operate. 

Keating also reflected on his operational experiences in various theaters, with staffs from the UK and the US, and presented two perspectives on future vertical lift (FVL) programs. At the top of the general officer’s list was the need for aviation companies to be virtually integrated with other combined arms forces in training and operations, in order to provide high-fidelity lift effects. “It’s hard to understand what FVL offers, so we must see the effects of FVL in the virtual and real world,” he said and emphasized, “Integration must include US allies.” 

And while he noted many nations are flying legacy-era aircraft, dating back to the 1970s in some cases, he encouraged initial investments “to focus on a bridge to FVL of the future,” and suggested allies send officers to the US on exchange tours to learn about the Pentagon’s efforts to advance FVL.   

In February, the US and UK governments agreed to the “Future Vertical Lift Cooperative Program Feasibility Assessment project arrangement,” promising to work together to ensure interoperability between future rotorcraft aviation vehicles and equipment.