The Pentagon is committed to early design work on a NEW AIRCRAFT THAT WILL REPLACE THOUSANDS OF HELICOPTERS NOW USED BY US MILITARY, its first "clean sheet design" program in years, The army official heading the program said on Friday. Don Bailey, a former Apache pilot who heads the "future vertical lift" program and the research efforts under way reported to explore possible approaches, said there WAS NO PUSH TO REDUCE FUNDING FOR THE PROGRAM. "The Science and Technology effort is supported 100%" said Bailey. He further added the budget officials left funding intact for the "Joint Multirole" technology demostration project, A PROGRAM THAT ANALYSTS SAY COULD BE WORTH UPWARDS US$ 100 BILLION. Current Plans call for an analysis of possible approaches for new rotorcraft in 2016 or 2017, followed by a desicion to move forward around 2018 and a contract award around 2020. The aircraft would replace b/w 2000-4000 UH-60 Black Hawks and AH-64 attack helicopters after 2030. The army last year chose four industries ro work on a concept of "Vertical lift Aircraft" : -> Textron Inc. Bell Helicopter Unit which teamed up with Lockheed Martin Corp -> Sikorsky teamed up with Boeing, AVX aircraft and Karmen aircraft.