Tilt-rotor aircraft that look like mini-Ospreys are vying with other new designs to replace thousands of U.S. military helicopters. Tilt rotors are incorporated in two of four vertical-lift designs awarded funding by the Department of Defense last month. The Joint Multi-Role Technology Demonstrator funding is part of efforts to build a family of vertical-lift vehicles that could replace thousands of aircraft over the next 50 years, according to the Army. Today’s fleet of U.S. military helicopters has flown extensively in Iraq and Afghanistan in the past decade, and many may need to be replaced before long, although officials are also looking at extending aircrafts’ lifespans. The goals of the Future Vertical Lift initiative are to provide the warfighter with improved speed, range, reliability and survivability, the Army’s Aviation and Missile Research Development and Engineering Center said in a statement announcing the design funding. “The Army has taken a large step toward developing a new family of aircraft referred to as the Future Vertical Lift Family of Systems,” AMRDEC officials said. Read More.

China is moving to push its claims over disputed islands with Japan and is making it known by restricting its airspace. As a result, the U.S. moved forcefully to try to counter China’s bid for influence over increasingly jittery Asian neighbors by sending a pair of B-52 bombers over disputed islands in the East China Sea, U.S. officials said Tuesday. The B-52s took off from Andersen Air Force Base in Guam and flew more than 1,500 miles northwest, crossing into what China has declared as its new air-defense identification zone, at about 7 p.m. ET Monday. The U.S. deliberately violated rules set by China by refusing to inform Beijing about the flight, officials said. China had warned of military action against aircraft entering the zone without notification, but didn’t respond to the B-52s, which weren’t armed and were part of a long-planned military exercise. A U.S. official said there was no attempt by the Chinese military to contact the B-52s. “The flight was without incident,” a U.S. official said. The ministry said the U.S. military aircraft had flown on the eastern edge of the new Chinese zone, about 120 miles from the disputed islands.