The U.S. Army is looking for agility at the X for their Future Long-Range Assault Aircraft (FLRAA) program, and Bell is ready to deliver with the capable Bell V-280 Valor. Bell’s technology demonstrator designed to show the Army the realm of the possible in Future Vertical Lift capability has flown 200 hours since its first flight three years ago. The U.S. Army wants to field FLRAA — an aircraft expected to fly twice as fast and twice as far as a conventional helicopter — by 2030. Valor has been put through its paces, completing key performance parameters and continuing to prove out possible threshold and objective requirements for FLRAA.
Bell is gearing up to compete head-to-head with a Lockheed Martin’s Sikorsky and Boeing team, which built the only other flying technology demonstrator in the effort leading up to a program of record. The SB-1 Defiant coaxial helicopter flew for the first time in March 2019 after struggling with rotor blade manufacturing problems and working through other more minor kinks. Both companies have entered a competitive development and risk reduction phase awarded in March 2020 ahead of the FLRAA program. The Army announced this month that it intends to proceed into a competition between just Sikorsky-Boeing and Bell to produce FLRAA.
As V-280 testing progressed, Bell demonstrated the V-280’s ability to execute mission-relevant manoeuvres such as fast-rope and sling load operations, autonomous flight, as well as a modular open systems approach that enabled rapid systems integration of a Pilotage Distributed Aperture System and Tactical Common Datalink from Team VALOR teammate Lockheed Martin. Bell and Team VALOR continue to work on a refined V-280 VALOR design that builds on the data captured during the past three years of testing as part of a Competitive Demonstration and Risk Reduction contract awarded in March 2020.
The Bell V-280 Valor is a tiltrotor aircraft being developed by Bell and Lockheed Martin for the United States Army’s Future Vertical Lift (FVL) program. The V-280 is reported to be designed for a cruising speed of 280 knots (320 mph; 520 km/h) (hence the name V-280), a top speed of 300 knots (350 mph; 560 km/h), a range of 2,100 nautical miles (2,400 mi; 3,900 km), and an effective combat range of 500 to 800 nmi (580 to 920 mi; 930 to 1,480 km). Expected maximum takeoff weight is around 30,000 pounds (14,000 kg). In one major difference from the earlier V-22 Osprey tiltrotor, the engines remain in place while the rotors and drive shafts tilt.