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- Sikorsky
- GMU SE/OR Department

Version: 1.0
(March 24th, 2011)


The industrial world, as it stands today, is dependent upon liquid fuel. From civilian vehicles to aircraft, from rocket propulsion systems to military vehicles, all forms of transportation are supported by liquid fuel. As such, fuel efficiency has become a hallmark in engineering and production of all different types and forms of vehicles that use fuel today.

The most notable reason for the new focus on fuel efficient vehicles and engines is due to the fact that the price of fuel has begun to rise. Consumers are now taking the fuel effectiveness of their vehicles into far more consideration now than ever before. Fuel, as a commodity, is now being seen within a more critical scope in terms of usage and availability. Just as everyday consumers are giving focus to fuel efficiency in their vehicles, so is the United States military.

Today, the US military (DoD) consumes more oil and petroleum than the 300 million consumers that reside within the US. The US military is actually the largest consumer of liquid fuels in the world, with fuel use in 2004 being the equivalent consumption level of the entire country of Greece. Within the construct of Operation Iraqi Freedom (OIF) and in the years pursuant, as of 2005, the US military was consuming 1.7 million gallons of fuel per day, which averages to about 9 gallons of fuel per deployed soldier. These metrics are in stark contrast to past wars, where by comparison, three weeks of fuel usage in the recent Iraq War equates to the total fuel usage of all Allied forces in World War 1.

The US military must seek out more fuel efficient / alternate energy-based vehicles for its operations and update its tactics in future war campaigns, or risk substantial increases in cost to the American people. One such vehicle that the US military, and therefore their vendors, must consider are those with rotary engines and helicopters. Helicopters, from an engineering perspective, are the least fuel efficient vehicles in use today in the campaign scenario. However the advantage provided by rotary aircraft make them an essential part of military operations.

Problem Statement

The need of the US military and the DoD to have helicopters in various warfare scenarios stems from the fact that they provide a tactical advantage and option that is often used, from cargo lifting to urban warfare support.

This project will serve to provide a background study on past wars in terms of their fuel usage, and compare them to the metrics of modern day warfare. What is needed, and what will be answered here subsequently is that given various future warfare scenarios, how will helicopters be leveraged and used in those scenarios? The largest issue being fuel efficiency, the efficiency of helicopters from a tactical perspective as well as a design perspective will need to be applied to each of the future scenarios to provide feasibility guidance in the next 10 to 20 years of helicopter production by vendors, specifically Sikorsky.

In addition, alternate energy sources, where useful, must be leveraged in conjunction with liquid fuel use to alleviate the cost of using liquid fuel exclusively. The efficiencies in these various scenarios will inevitably affect the procurement and resulting revenue associated with the production and sale of helicopters in the coming decades.