Bell Helicopter has unveiled a new aircraft that could be the shape of future U.S. Army helicopters to come. The aircraft is one of two that will demonstrate new technologies for the ground service’s helicopter fleet, scheduled to receive a fleetwide upgrade in the 2030s.
The aircraft, known as the V-280 Valor, was unveiled at the Farnborough Air Show and is Bell Helicopter’s entry in the Joint Multi Role helicopter technology demonstrator program. The Valor is most notable for being a tiltrotor airplane that, like the V-22 Osprey, can fly like a helicopter and a conventional aircraft.
Bell and its partner Lockheed Martin are producing the V-280 Valor tech demonstrator, while Sikorsky Aircraft and Boeing are producing a second demonstrator, the SB-1 Defiant. The Defiant is a more conventional design that utilizes counter-rotating rotors and a push propeller in the helicopter’s tail.
One of the two designs will likely end up being the basis for the Army’s Future Vertical Lift program, which will replace the AH-64 Apache and UH-60 Blackhawk. Lighter variants for scout and transport are also envisioned, as well as giants to replace the CH-47 Chinook and even the C-130 Hercules.
The Valor would be the younger brother to Bell’s V-22 Osprey. Valor is expected to have a cruise speed of 280 knots per hour, hence the V-280 designation. That’s nearly twice as fast as latest model of the UH-60 Blackhawk, the UH-60M. Valour is also expected to be able to carry 14 troops to the Blackhawk’s 11, and 25 percent more cargo than the Blackhawk. Valor’s range is expected to be between 500 to 800 miles, compared to the Blackhawk’s 360 miles.
Read more at Popular Mechanics
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