Bell announced on Thursday that the tilt-rotor V-280 Valor aircraft has completed its flight test program after three years and 214 hours of flight.
The manufacturer is now awaiting the start of phase II of the U.S. Army’s Future Long-Range Assault Aircraft (FLRAA) program, when Request for Proposals will be issued during the summer.
Meanwhile, Bell has stated that it will perform the initial preliminary designs for major subsystems and the conceptual weapons system for the aircraft.
The FLRAA program was launched by the Army to replace the Sikorsky UH-60 Black Hawk helicopter with a faster, more modern and capable aircraft. For this reason, the two competitors, Bell and Sikorsky, used different concepts.
While Sikorsky and its partner Boeing are developing the Defiant X helicopter, based on rigid rotor technology and pusher propulsion called X2, Bell is relying on its tilt-rotor experience accumulated with the V-22 Osprey.
The V-280 Valor, however, is an evolution of the concept, whose main visual difference is the pivoting drive shafts while the engine remains in the same place.
“We have assessed several vertical lift technologies and determined the tiltrotor to be the only solution to the agility, range, and speed requirements of a Long-Range Assault Aircraft that can meet the cost, timeline, and risk profile required for a successful acquisition program”, explained Keith Flail, executive vice president, Advanced Vertical Lift Systems.
According to Bell, the V-280 has proven to have low speed agility, a long range and being able to reach speeds of 305 knots (more than 560 km/h).
In addition to the FLRAA competition, Bell and Sikorsky are also the final participants in another U.S. Army program, the FARA (Future Attack Reconnaissance Aircraft) program. In this dispute, the company controlled by Textron offers the 360 Invictus helicopter against the Raider X.